mtoland (mtoland) wrote in highbias,

Richard Thompson - Sweet Warrior

Sweet Warrior
(Shout Factory)
Richard Thompson is such a masterful songwriter and guitarist that he’s never made a bad record. (Well, maybe You? Me? Us?.) Judging his work in critical terms is difficult, as even a “lesser” Thompson record is superior to anything Billy Joel or Sheryl Crow is dribbling out. The downshot of this is that it’s easy to hear a new Thompson disk and dismiss it as “merely” brilliant. (I made this mistake myself on his last couple of albums, Front Parlour Ballads and The Old Kit Bag.) With the troubadour’s latest record, I find I can’t merely shrug my shoulders, mutter “it’s great, what did you expect?” and file it away. Full of catchy melodies, finely crafted lyrics and sizzling guitar solos, Sweet Warrior is Thompson’s most engaging record since 1994’s landmark Mirror Blue. Taut, six-string-centric arrangements give “Guns Are the Tongues,” “Mr. Stupid,” “Too Late to Come Fishing” and “Johnny’s Far Away” a visceral thrill, and the abundant hooks make Thompson’s bitterly satirical lyrics about the war between the sexes go down subversively easily. That eternal battle isn’t the only one concerning Thompson here; “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” takes the point of view of a soldier on the ground in Baghdad, while the raging “I’ll Never Give It Up” makes an ambiguous but forceful social statement. The record also contains a patented melancholy Thompson ballad called “She Sang Angels to Rest,” as well as another “I loved her so I had to kill her” classic in “Poppy Red.” Sweet Warrior is quite the well-rounded Richard Thompson album, and a great place to jump back on the train for those who might have fallen off in recent years. Michael Toland
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