December 15, 2006

Son of a Gun

Filed under: Archive,Music

Teddy Thompson
Governor Hindmarsh
November 29.

Reviewed by Murray Bramwell

I first came across Teddy Thompson on the I’m Your Man tribute concert album for Leonard Cohen – songs recorded in Brighton, England and at Brett Sheehy’s final Sydney Festival. Featured artists also included Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Jarvis Cocker, sisters Kate and Anna McGarrigle and Kate’s increasingly celebrated offspring, Martha and Rufus Wainwright.

Teddy Thompson had been around well before that, I discover – his first album released in 2000. His latest, and best CD, is Separate Ways. There is an EP explosively entitled Blunderbuss and he’s contributed songs (including a chirpy version of King of the Road) for the soundtrack of Brokeback Mountain.

He also is the son of famous parents. While Martha and Rufus carry not only McGarrigle genes but the quirky DNA of Loudon Wainwright, Teddy is the sandy haired scion of English folk-rock legends Richard and Linda Thompson who have both produced remarkable music over nearly forty years.

To say that Teddy, Martha and Rufus, have had big boots to fill, is beyond obvious. But each, in their developing careers, has prevailed against odious comparison by taking strides in new and distinctive directions – Rufus with his operatic romanticism, Martha by out-confessing Loudon, and Teddy by sounding nothing like his father, and indicating that he too is a singular and gifted performer.

On stage at the Gov, Teddy cuts a slim but commanding figure in his dark gunslinger shirt, and with few preliminaries, opens with selections from Separate Ways. Shine so Bright establishes his signature vocal – sweet, keening, and as tensile as it is true. The songs are distinctive, well-crafted and streaked with tuneful melancholy. I Should Get Up has a skiffle rhythm and Think Again, a mesmerizing lilt and guitar line reminiscent of such British minstrels as Bert Jansch, Donovan and Nick Drake. Separate Ways, the strong title track, is a highlight.

There is a sea shanty, Sally Brown, and the mordant Blunderbuss irony of Turning the Gun on Myself. While mending a broken string Teddy wryly alludes to the cricket (at that stage only the First Test woes were apparent) before embarking on another catchy original –Everybody Move It and the dreamy No Way to Be. The slow ballads can get perilously Jim Reeves-slow at times, but Thompson is confident enough to stake his ground and hold it. When he sings Sorry to See Me Go – we surely are. It’s separate ways now, but we will be hearing more from Teddy Thompson.

The Adelaide Review, No.307, December 15, 2006, p.15.

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