A collection of new, unplugged versions of Richard Thompson’s best-known compositions may not qualify as a ‘proper’ new album, even if it is his new album for Proper.
Of course, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea of the folk master taking a moment to glance over his shoulder before rejoining the fray. There is some vulnerability, though, in the idea of re-recording certain songs that were really pretty acoustic to start with. Thompson’s treatments of I Misunderstood, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning and Beeswing, for example, are lovely if you’re finding them for the first time, but if you remember the originals, from albums that aren’t even that old, the concept becomes a mite contentious. He also revisits a number of songs from the era of his first marriage. Coupled with a vocal style that sometimes lacks nuance on more strident songs, one can’t help looking for Linda, as another song went, especially on Walking On A Wire and I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight. One Door Opens and the gorgeous Persuasion are more successful, underscoring his guitar dexterity, as does the deliciously brooding Shoot Out The Lights.** PS**