Categorized | Album Reviews

Richard Thompson – Still

Posted on 19 June 2015 by Joe

Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy freely admits that his role as a producer is made easier by working with some of the music industry’s best talents. Those he has produced or collaborated in recent years, from Bill Fay to Low to Mavis Staples probably don’t need much producing. They just need to turn up, play their stuff, Tweedy presses some buttons and everyone goes home. Of course there’s more to it than that, but you get the sense with his latest production credit, working with one of his guitar heroes Richard Thompson, that as with Low and others he was happy to let the talent play their stuff and not really interfere.

RichardThompsonStill

That is probably the smartest move a producer can make when dealing with someone like Thompson. Hand holding and nurturing is more for newbies who are lost in the studio (see John Leckie’s work with The Stone Roses).

The result here is that thanks in part to Tweedy Thompson has delivered another high point in an enormously long career that is now in its sixth decade.

The key to this album’s success is some quality songs. In fact some of Thompson’s best of his career, in particular Patty Don’t You Put Me Down, which is sure to be a live favourite for years to come.

This is firmly an electric guitar album. It’s an important distinction as Thompson excels at both acoustic and electric guitar driven tracks. It’s not rock but its up their with Front Parlour Ballads in terms of great recent Thompson albums.

The recording in Tweedy’s Chicago based Loft Studio and familiar personnel including Thompson and John Cale’s tour drummer Michael Jerome, also give the album a warmth and intimacy. This is further shown through Thompson’s low key playing. To say he’s a good electric guitarist is one of the biggest understatements it is possible to make. But here he is far from over the top, he keeps the guitar as one ingredient to the songs, rather than overshadow them.

This allows She Never Could Resist A Winding Road to build up momentum nicely. On the almost prog rock-like Pony in the Stable some of the guitar playing is eye wateringly good, but still the song remains king.

So while Tweedy may have underplayed his input its clear that his less is more approach is still key to this album’s strengths, as he successfully brings out the best of one of modern music’s most enduring figures.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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