British born and New York based alt-musician Teddy Thompson released Up Front and Down Low, an album of classic country covers, in July, and it says what it needs to about his underdog status that a) the disk has only been released in the US, and b) neither the blogosphere nor any other market seems to have noticed. Heck, I was startled to discover it myself as I researched today's entry, and I spent an entire summer listening to nothing else but Thompson's second album Separate Ways, a perfect, crackling masterpiece of self-pity topped off by a hidden Everly Brothers track.
One of several second-generation musicians emerging from under their parent's wing to startle a new generation, Teddy Thompson has not yet managed to ring the bell of fame that fellow secondgen artist and bad influence Rufus Wainwright has. Nor has he found his audience, yet -- being compared to Crowded House in one review and Jackson Browne and David Gray in another provides a pretty broad range. But if Thompson remains unknown, it's not for lack of musicianship (though in the case of his newest outing, it may be because the country market is not his niche).
Thompson's music is only folk in the broader sense, but his folk credentials are solid: son of old folkies Richard and Linda Thompson, born and raised in a Sufi commune, Thompson Jr. shares his mother's sweet, clear, etherial voice, and his father's penchant for bitter lyrics full of the seamy underside of fame and drug culture. The combination is powerful, and even if his guitar playing is still on the cusp of maturity, using his parents and peers in the studio has, so far, made up for that lack. I am confident that Thompson's music will eventually win the hearts and minds of a full generation once he returns to his original songwriting.
In the meantime, here's two songs Thompson covered for the 2006 Leonard Cohen tribute film I'm Your Man, where he stood out among some pretty heavy compatriots, including Wainwright himself. Tonight Will Be Fine comes especially recommended -- something about the bittersweet lyrics and the slow pace suits him, I think.
Still haven't heard Teddy's newest album, but I'd buy enough copies of Separate Ways for all of you if I had the cash. Since I don't, you should head over to his website and pick it up for yourselves -- and if you get the new one, too, let me know how it turned out, will you?
Today's bonus coversongs: