Given how infrequently she records, a new album from Linda Thompson is always an event. Won't Be Long Now is her first album in six years. The set's contents reveal an artist fully in the moment, who understands the importance of the present and doesn't hold anything back. This is indeed a family affair. Her three children, Muna, Teddy, and Kami, ...
Given how infrequently she records, a new album from Linda Thompson is always an event. Won't Be Long Now is her first album in six years. The set's contents reveal an artist fully in the moment, who understands the importance of the present and doesn't hold anything back. This is indeed a family affair. Her three children, Muna, Teddy, and Kami, all appear, as do grandson Zac Hobbs, ex-husband Richard Thompson, and his son Jack. There are a slew of talented guests to boot. The material sticks close to modern British folk, with a couple of traditional numbers and rockers. Thompson wrote or co-wrote six of these 11 tunes. On the set opener "Love's for Babies and Fools," she is backed only by her ex-husband on acoustic guitar. Her contralto, in fine form here, underscores the poignancy in her lyric. "If I Were a Bluebird," co-written with Ron Sexsmith, may be the album's finest moment. With David Mansfield on Weissenborn and Sam Amidon on acoustic guitar and banjo, Thompson spins this long, sad, romantic waltz, with vocal help from Amidon and Amy Helm. The reading of Anna McGarrigle's rocker, "As Fast as My Feet," features Kami on lead vocals as Linda, Teddy, and Muna all provide harmony vocals, Hobbs plays lead guitar, and Jack plays bass. While Teddy's "Father and Son Ballad" is written and delivered in classic English folk style, the Charles Causley/Tony Callen classic "Nursery Rhyme of Innocence a & Experience" -- a song Thompson has sung for nearly 50 years -- is delivered with Garo Yellin's cello coloring Martin Carthy's guitar and her voice in a more modern style. Carthy and his longtime collaborator, fiddler Dave Swarbrick, appear riotously on Linda and Teddy's drinking song "Mr. Tams." They get rousing vocal help from Susan McKeown, Eliza Carthy, and Kami. It is followed by the traditional "Paddy's Lamentation," a Civil War-era duet hauntingly performed by Linda and Teddy; Thompson infuses the tune with the wisdom and grief of the ages. "Never the Band" is an original and ironic folk song -- she annotates it in the sleeve, stating "....I've hardly spent a moment of my adult life unmarried!" This large-band original features no less than John Kirkpatrick on button accordion. The closer is the bluegrass-inspired title track, written by Teddy. It features Mansfield's mandolin, Tony Trischka's banjo, and vocal help from Kami and Helm, sending it off on an exhortation to grasp the moment before it's gone. Won't Be Long Now is, as has proven true on each offering since Thompson returned to recording, a creative, relaxed triumph, filled with wit, plaintive charm, and emotional poignancy. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi