Linda Thompson: Won’t Be Long Now
Linda Thompson doesn’t make albums often so this is one to savour. After rising to fame in the 1970s as half of a duo with her then husband Richard Thompson, a rare vocal disorder forced her to retire from performing. Fortunately, she returned eleven years ago and Won’t Be Long Now is her third solo album since the comeback. It is also her best yet. Her distinctive singing manages to combine an unusual blend of vulnerability and dark wit on these eleven tracks.
The new album doesn’t break any particularly new ground and there are no startlingly different arrangements or musical innovations. That said, the range of songs and styles on display is very broad and everything is played with such precision and sung with such poignancy that you really wouldn’t want it any other way. Overall the sound is quite stripped down and uncluttered with the acoustic side to the fore.
It may therefore come as a slight surprise that only two of the songs are traditional. These are ‘Paddy’s Lamentation’ a bleak Irish emigration song which is from the soundtrack to the movie Gangs of New York, and ‘Blue Bleezin’ Blind Drunk’ a chilling tale of domestic abuse from Glasgow which she sings unaccompanied in a live recording from The Bottom Line in New York City.
Many of the songs are originals and a couple were co-written by Linda with son Teddy Thompson who also appears on some of the recordings along with several other members of the Thompson clan. On one track – ‘As Fast as My Feet’ – there are three generations of Thompsons with Linda’s daughter Kami taking the lead vocal. There are cameo roles elsewhere for English folk musicians Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick and John Kirkpatrick as well as American Sam Amidon who plays guitar and banjo on one song.
Outstanding among a well-balanced set are two songs. The first of these is the opening track ‘Love’s For Babies and Fools’, a song written by Linda who sings it accompanied by the instantly recognisable guitar of ex-husband Richard. The other highlight of the album is the plaintive, traditional sounding ‘If I Were a Bluebird’ which sets Linda’s seemingly timeless lyrics to a tune by Ron Sexsmith.
The album closes with the title track which is a musing on mortality and on how “life is short and getting shorter”. It was written by son Teddy for his mother. “What’s his point, I wonder?” says Linda in the sleeve notes.
Won’t Be Long Now is released on Pettifer Sounds.