by Mitch Myers
Richard Thompson’s music has always been an acquired taste. At least that’s been the case with Thompson’s recordings for the last 30 years. This includes his vintage work with the Fairport Convention and the several albums he made with his then-wife Linda, as well as umpteen solo albums he’s produced with clocklike regularity.
Thompson’s strong suit? Flawless, distinctive guitar playing in both the electric and acoustic veins, poignant if sometimes dour songwriting ability and an expressive (however unsexy) singing voice. Combined, Thompson’s talents make him an imposing triple-threat on record and in concert. Indeed, go to a Richard Thompson show these days and marvel at the large number of "Thompson geeks" in attendance.
In any case, Mock Tudor is the latest offering from Sir Richard and his quality control division has yet to suffer. Combining musicians from his illustrious past (the rhythm section of drummer Dave Mattacks and bassist Danny Thompson) with the modern production team of Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf, Thompson has finally stumbled onto a potentially commercial combination. Utilizing the themes of city and suburban lifestyles as a focal point for his songwriting, Mock Tudor has a conceptual unity that his previous albums lacked. While Thompson’s upbeat material has previously suffered from herky-jerky, white-boy rhythms, his morose balladry is always stellar. "Uninhabited Man" and "Dry My Tears and Move On" showcase Thompson’s gloomy persona, while rockers such as "Cooksferry Queen" crackle with brazen confidence and blinding guitar technique.
Meet the new boss – same as the old boss – impeccable!