Richard Thompson Still on 180g 2LP + Download
Renowned guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson will release Still, an album of new music produced by Jeff Tweedy, in June 2015 via Fantasy Records (Concord Music Group). Still was recorded in at Wilco's two-story rehearsal loft in Chicago over the course of just nine days, backed by several longtime players from both Thompson’s and Tweedy’s bands.
"Richard's been one of my favorite guitar players for a very long time,” stated Tweedy. "When I think about it, he's also one of my favorite songwriters and favorite singers. He's the Ultimate Triple Threat. Getting to work closely with him on this record was a truly rewarding experience, not to mention a great thrill. And he keeps alive my streak of working exclusively with artists who make me look good as a producer."
Thompson enlisted Tweedy’s production skills in an effort to shake up his own creative approach to making records. "It turned out be really good idea,” says Thompson. "Jeff is musically very sympathetic. Although some of his contributions are probably rather subtle to the listener’s ear, they were really interesting and his suggestions were always very pertinent.”
The key to Still’s emotional resonance is a set of gripping new Thompson compositions rich with his signature mix of trenchant insight, gallows humor, and keen empathy for characters at the brink of being overcome by their emotions, their pasts, or themselves. “She Never Could Resist a Winding Road” opens the set with a gently haunting meditation on the perpetual hope that can only be offered by the unknown. A different strain of uncertainty pervades the anxious “Dungeons for Eyes,” the latest in a series of political-as-personal allegories that form a fertile vein running through Thompson’s catalog.
The stark, pleading, “Where’s Your Heart” contains a notably intense, unguarded solo from Thompson that vividly telegraphs and extends the nervousness and confusion of the lyric. The balance of muscle and sensitivity is elevated by inventive sonic treatments devised by Tweedy on tracks like “Broken Doll.” “That’s Jeff in the background,” Richard says of the eerie, high-register textures hovering over the rest of the band. Tweedy also realigned the rhythmic framework of the wry, frustrated “All Buttoned Up,” giving the song space to build and breathe by stripping the groove down to its simplest components.
The rapid-fire, modal “Pony in the Stable” draws from Thompson’s British-isle roots, spinning a nimble, evolving arrangement from the intricate melody. Thompson drew on the full resources of the Wilco loft for the concluding “Guitar Hero,” a seven-and-a-half minute autobiographical saga tracing a budding fret-jockey’s awkward attempts to emulate his idols - in this case, Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, Chuck Berry, James Burton, and Hank Marvin.
Taken as a whole, Still is a powerful dispatch from an acknowledged master who remains unafraid to put himself into demanding new environments – its title reflecting that resilience and seemingly endless resourcefulness. "Or,” Thompson adds slyly, "it could be read as ‘Is he still performing? I thought he died years ago.”
"This razor-sharp collection deserves your attention, whether you're a longtime fan or a new convert." - Aquarium Drunkard
Richard Thompson Still Track Listing:
1. She Never Could Resist a Winding Road
2. Beatnik Walking
3. Patty Don’t You Put Me Down
4. Broken Doll
5. All Buttoned Up
7. Long John Silver
8. Pony in the Stable
9. Where’s Your Heart
10. No Peace No End
11. Dungeons for Eyes
12. Guitar Heroes