Just as the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, the pick doesn't fall far from the guitar. The latest son of a well-known musician to release a record joining a prolific and estimable procession that includes Jakob Dylan, Chris Stills, Rufus Wainwright, Sean and Julian Lennon, Enrique Iglesias and others is Teddy Thompson. No one should be surprised at this. What, you expected the son of Richard and Linda Thompson to be a dry cleaner or accountant?
What's surprising is how little Teddy sounds like the old man. Whereas Richard's songs are emotionally knotted and his husky voice reverberates from the depth of emotional chasms, Teddy's tunes are sweetly stirring and wistfully charming i.e., the music of a younger man, which should hardly be surprising. On the opening track, "Wake Up," he sings in a keening alpha-male voice that's positioned somewhere between winning and whining "I won't even begin telling you how sorry I am."
Richard plays guitar on five tracks, and Thompson-philes will definitely want to acquire the album for that reason. His playing improves every number to which he contributes, and his solos on
"Wake Up" (RealAudio excerpt) and "All We Said" (RealAudio excerpt) are memorable even by his own standards, especially the pealing, howling spray of notes in his brief but passionate solo on the latter tune. The subtle way he decorates the closing track, "Days in the Park," demonstrates the respect and fondness father feels for son.
That's not to take anything away from Teddy, who's quite capable of exceptional moments in his own right. In fact, the best song on the record is "Brink of Love" (RealAudio excerpt), whose lovely, languid melody is carried by Thompson's amiable voice and acoustic guitar, joined by a string arrangement that's perfectly mated to the song's lazy, meditative drift. The prevailing mood of the album, and its recurring theme, is lovelorn melancholy. Typical of that mood is "A Step Behind." "It's not so much that you left/ It's that you didn't come back," Thompson chides. "It's not the pain that you felt/ But the obvious lack." There's a certain callowness evident in the adjacent placement of songs bearing the too-similar titles "All I See" and "All We Said." By the same token, the clichéd milk-carton motif is overworked in "Missing Children," though the music is certainly pleasant enough.
Incidentally, this promising debut ends with a hidden track: a duet with Emmylou Harris on the old Everly Brothers gem, "I Wonder If I Care as Much." Its teary, doe-eyed mood suits Thompson's wounded sensibility to a T.