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Richard Thompson's New Electric Album 'Sweet Warrior'

Richard Thompson will add a new album to that illustrious body of work with Sweet Warrior, out May 29 from Shout! Factory. The disc is his first work of all-new material since 2005's Front Parlour Ballads, and his first electric disc since 2003's The Old Kit Bag. Co-produced by Richard Thompson and Simon Tassano and recorded in late 2006, Sweet Warrior includes frequent musical collaborators Danny Thompson, Michael Jerome, Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), Judith Owen, and others.

The album plays like a book of short stories set to music, populated with characters like a mournful widower whose "love makes her bed/where poppies grow over her head" ("Poppy-Red"), a divorcee who sarcastically reassures his wife that "when your friends point out you're stuck with/a Neanderthal for an ex/don't fret about it, darling/I still sign my name on cheques" ("Mr. Stupid"), a dissolute husband and wife each cheating on the other yet wearily resigned to "the job of man and wife" and "the old comforts of the missionary life" ("Johnny's Far Away") and in the album's standout track, "Dad's Gonna Kill Me, " a terrified young soldier stationed in Baghdad (abbreviated "Dad") pondering his own mortality: "I've got a wife, a kid, another on the way/I might get home if I can live through today/Before I came out here I never used to pray/Nobody loves me here."

Of "Dad's Gonna Kill Me, " Thompson tells the San Diego Union Tribune that "sometimes you just have to name names. There's a time and place for political music, a time to stand up and name the despots, and say: 'People take to the streets, it's time for the revolution.' There's a time for Neil Young to say 'Impeach the President.' And, God, this is the time." However, lest fans think this is a purely a political album, he reminds the Associated Press that "It's kind of a war record, not just political war but also domestic war or relationship war. There's a sweetness to it as well."

Musically, Thompson is in top form, reminding fans why Rolling Stone voted him one of the top 20 guitar players of all time with his gorgeously arranged solos and "dazzling fusion of rock, country, jazz, classical, Celtic, and Middle Eastern styles" (San Diego Union Tribune). The songs cover a range of sounds, from the gentle, late-afternoon ballad "Too Late To Come Fishing, " to the bluesy, barn-burning rocker "Bad Monkey" and even the ska-inflected "Francesca, " complete with horn section.



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