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Richard Thompson
"SWEET WARRIOR"
Irish Release June 1st, 2007
PROPER RECORDS / Distributed By Gael Linn
www.richardthompson-music.com

See Richard Thompson ::: LIVE :::
MIDLANDS MUSIC FESTIVAL
Belvedere House, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath
Saturday July 28

www.midlandsmusicfestival.ie

This is a return to the classic electric Thompson, his first electric album since 2003’s ‘The Old Kit Bag,’ and follows on a very busy two years of activity that have seen releases of everything from a solo CD recorded in his home studio "Front Parlour Ballads", a film score "Grizzly Man" a career-spanning box set "RT: The Life and Music of Richard Thompson", to a one-of-a-kind musical retrospective of the last millennium " 1000 Years of Popular Music".

Filled with 14 songs of tragic characters and stories of loss and betrayal, the album also holds one of Thompson’s most overtly political songs to date, “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me,” told from the perspective of a nervous young soldier stationed in Baghdad (abbreviated as “Dad” in the song).

Recorded in late 2006, Sweet Warrior includes musical collaborators Danny Thompson, Michael Jerome, Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), Judith Owen, and more.

Tracks:
1.Needle And Thread (4:42)/ 2.Poppy-Red (4:35) /3.Take Care The Road You Choose (6:43)/ 4.Sneaky Boy (2:57)/ 5.I'll Never Give It Up (3:21)/ 6.Dad's Gonna Kill Me (5:16)/ 7.Mr. Stupid(3:53)/ 8.Bad Monkey (5:14) / 9.Francesca (5:17)/ 10.Johnny's Far Away (4:51)/ 11.Too Late To Come Fishing (4:35)/ 12.She Sang Angels To Rest(3:23)/ 13. Guns Are The Tongues (7:25)/ 14.Sunset Song (5:38)

 
 
 
   
 

No artist to emerge in the 2nd half of the ’60s has gone on to have a more productive and vital career than Richard Thompson. While still a teenager, he founded and led Fairport Convention, which was to British folk-rock what the Byrds were to the idiom’s American equivalent—meaning more Childe ballads and less sunshine. Thompson’s solo albums, beginning with 1972’s Henry the Human Fly, reveal an artist of unparalleled dimension who has followed his muse as boldly as fellow iconoclast Neil Young. The series of albums Thompson recorded during the 1970s and early ’80s with his then-wife Linda, including the exquisite Pour Down Like Silver and culminating in the devastating Shoot Out the Lights, charted the ups and downs of a relationship with unstinting candor. The last twenty years have seen a steady supply of critically acclaimed solo albums, including successful major label releases like Rumour and Sigh and a number of “homemade” discs available only through BeesWeb.

His vast and ever-growing body of original material is marked by consistent intelligence, taste and emotional purity—which is why so many of his songs have been covered by other quality artists, a stellar list that includes the likes of Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Del McCoury, Graham Nash, X, Los Lobos and Bob Mould. And Thompson is among the most distinctive of guitar virtuosos, capable of breathtaking drama and sublime delicacy, depending on the song and the amp setting, if indeed an amp happens to be employed. Over the course of his career, Thompson has earned numerous awards and honors, including the Ivor Novello Award for songwriting, the Orville Gibson Award for guitarists, and a spot in the top 20 of Rolling Stone's 2004 list of all-time guitar greats. In February 2006, he was awarded a BBC Lifetime Achievement Folk Award.

With his intensive touring schedule and frequent recordings, Thompson is a perpetual motion machine, and he’s never been more productive than during the last two years, which have seen the release of Live in Providence (a band recording on DVD), Austin City Limits (CD and DVD from the TV show), the Thompson-composed and -played soundtrack to Werner Herzog’s film Grizzly Man, the five-CD box set RT: The Life and Music of Richard Thompson (Free Reed Records), the ambitious musical retrospective 1000 Years of Popular Music (CD and DVD) and Front Parlour Ballads, an intimate acoustic LP recorded in his home studio.

Thompson’s latest work, Sweet Warrior is released on May 28th on Proper Records, his first electric album since 2003’s The Old Kit Bag, mates the incendiary sounds of some of the artist’s most memorable recordings with timely and provocative new songs. When asked why he has chosen to plug in again, Thompson replies (tongue partially in cheek, as usual), “I tend to organize my writing in piles, and the electric pile was becoming especially big, so that’s the one I chose to go to.” He adds that, although, the album wasn’t assembled thematically, on reflection it seems to keep returning to the subject of “combat, in love as well as in war.”

The album’s most provocative song is “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me,” a vivid evocation of the Iraq War in which Thompson employs the language of the young men in uniform who find themselves in strife-torn Baghdad—or “Dad,” as the soldiers refer to it. “I’m interested in language,” Thompson explains, “and I was intrigued by the jargon used by the troops in Iraq. This is nothing new, obviously—there are fascinating examples of soldiers’ jargon in songs from the Napoleonic Wars, and all through history soldiers have tended to cut through the official bullshit and tell it like it is, often with a sardonic kind of humor. So, with all this intriguing slang coming out of the Iraq War, I was inspired to build a song using this language in order to express the present-day reality from the point of view of a soldier who’s seeing it first-hand. But I felt the original version might be a bit too cryptic for ready understanding, so I simplified it a bit to make it more accessible, because this isn’t a time for subtlety or metaphors.”

The reaction to the song, he says, has been extreme. “Some people have emailed me to say, ‘How dare you?’; others have said, ‘You’ve expressed our feelings perfectly,’ including some parents of GIs who are over there.” The initial reaction from the soldiers themselves has been gratifyingly positive, he adds.

Other highlights: “Needle and Thread,” whose clanging collisions of traditional and modern elements recall prime Fairport; the ardent ballad “She Sang the Angels to Rest,” on which Thompson employs a string section for the first time ever; the reggaefied, horn-accented “Francesca, which he points out is translated from the Italian as “freedom”; and the epic “Guns Are the Tongues,” which provides the album with its thematic and emotional climax.

Produced by Richard Thompson and Simon Tassano, Sweet Warrior features longtime Thompson collaborator Danny Thompson (double bass), Taras Prodaniuk (electric bass), Michael Jerome (drums), Michael Hayes (guitar), Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins (violin), and Judith Owen (backing vocals). Some of the above will be joining the artist on tour during the second half of 2007.

Thompson admits he has no idea where he’d put the LP in terms of his body of work,. “One tends to be particularly fond of the most recent one,” he says. “But I think more in terms of individual songs than albums, and I suspect there are several here that I’ll be playing for some time to come.”

So what keeps the seemingly tireless 57-year-old artist going? “It’s just a drive—you’re driven to do it,” Thompson says. “If you’re not driven, maybe you shouldn’t bother. If you haven’t written a song for a couple of weeks, you get itchy—you start twitching. You have to get it out there, whatever it is. I’ve been twitching for 40 years…which is great. It’s wonderful to still be enthusiastic about what is basically one’s employment, and to have been that way all the way through. I still guiltily look over my shoulder sometimes, thinking, ‘This is too much fun.’”

A detailed biography and discography are available at http://www.richardthompson-music.com/bio.asp.

 
 
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