Review By: George
Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
On is more a bold statement
than a needed album title for Randy Thompson. The CD digs a deep
line, clearly defined, and forms a solid musical signpost .The
album rocks in part, slows to measure the mood on the slower cuts,
and is generally a tight musical odyssey for a guy renowned for
taking years between his album releases. But that’s okay –
quality takes time, and this is a topdrawer effort.
As I said in 2004
with Thompson’s last release: "If you’re into
laid-bare honesty, caught in lyrics that scout the heart and skirt
the boundaries, check out Virginian singer-songwriter Randy
Thompson. That’s Not Me, his second solo effort, is due for
release in mid-February. With these indulgent and generous tracks,
Thompson has quickly claimed me as a fan. And he did it easily,
all with a style nestled somewhere between edgy Outlaw and gritty
For the artist who
takes his primary influence from maverick tunesmith Steve Young,
my opinion of his work remains unchanged. He’s still edgy. He’s
still raw and exposed. He’s still honest. And…he’s further
on. This album proves it.
writing on the album is incisive, clear and heart-worn. On
Thompson’s last, he was bent and buckled with the weight on a
dissolving marriage. But here, after the joy of finding new love,
celebrated with a marriage in 2006, he fires across an album
soaked in fiddles, banjo, slide and steel. You can hear the
passion. The music blisters with virtuosity; it’s the type of
soiree forged in the backblocks of small-town rural living,
brought to its musical fore when, after the work is done, the guys
turn up to play. The musical cast, an able anchor to the eclectic
mix, consists of some talented pickers and pluckers.
Don Helms, an
original from Hank’s (that’s Hank Williams Snr…if you don’t
mind) Drifting Cowboys Band, makes his presence felt and heard. It
kinda seems right Thompson, a self-confessed Hankophile with a
complete collection of every 78 record the great man ever
released, would bring Helms to the mix.
Thompson tells us
in his liner homage to the 80-year old: "Having Don Helms…on
this record is one of the great thrills of my life. He is playing
‘Ol’ Red’ the same steel guitar he played on all those
surely, must be the playing of Thompson’s son, Colin. The
16-year-old makes his mark on several tracks, playing slide.
Alongside Helms and Thompson’s son, there are fine and noted
musicians – Garrick Alden (lead guitar, bass, drums and banjo);
Alan Oresky (violin and strings); Rickie Simpkins (fiddle and
mandolin); Andy Hamburger (drums). These guys know their stuff and
the album is a richer, fuller, complete package because of it.
Tracks like the
revealing "Don’t You See", the sentiment of
"Songbird", the introspection of "Riptide" and
the history of "Further On" are tuned examples of solid
words paired to crisp and keen playing. All in all it’s the
progressive talents of a guy who’s allowed his music, much to
our delight, to take him (and us) like the title reminds us,
Thompson, the album is out now on Jackpot Records.