Fashionably Late

Fashionably Late

by Linda Thompson
     
 

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The phrase "long-overdue return" takes on new dimensions with the release of Linda Thompson's Fashionably Late, which arrives 17 years after her last album, One Clear Moment, and is only the second solo recording from the storied folk rock singer. (She was sidelined due, in part, to a rare condition called hysterical dysphonia, which rendered her

Overview

The phrase "long-overdue return" takes on new dimensions with the release of Linda Thompson's Fashionably Late, which arrives 17 years after her last album, One Clear Moment, and is only the second solo recording from the storied folk rock singer. (She was sidelined due, in part, to a rare condition called hysterical dysphonia, which rendered her speechless.) Unlike Thompson's slickly produced solo debut or the heady folk rock of her final release with ex-husband Richard -- 1982's immortal breakup album, Shoot Out the Lights -- Fashionably Late is a spare, largely acoustic set that spotlights Linda's earthy, expressive voice and the ten story-songs she gives wings to. And her voice sounds lovely -- whether bristling on her searing look at marriage, "Weary Life," or creaking on the line "Oh, how I long for my mother's arms" (Thompson recently lost her own mum) in "The Banks of the Clyde." All but four of the songs grant writing credits to the Thompsons' son, Teddy, who also plays guitar and duets with his mom on Lal Waterson's lovely, Celtic-hued "Evona Darling." Other notable contributors include Rufus Wainwright (who co-wrote the blues-tinged "Paint & Powder Beauty," the only track featuring a string section); Van Dyke Parks; Kate Rusby; and Martin Carthy and his daughter Eliza. But longtime fans will be most surprised to find Richard Thompson lending his distinctive guitar playing and vocal harmonies to the disc's melodic opening track, "Dear Mary." Perhaps the tempestuous relationship so electrifyingly dissected on Shoot Out the Lights is now water under the bridge -- Linda, for one, has carried on, fashionably late, perhaps, but as resonant as ever.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Linda Thompson's first recording in 17 years is a stunning brace of poetics and grace. For a woman who literally lost her voice for more than a decade due to a stress disorder, Thompson reveals that she is at full strength as a vocalist, and perhaps more importantly, with this recording she clearly establishes herself as a songwriter as well. Recorded in the U.S. and in England, Fashionably Late feels like less of a comeback offering than it does an elegant statement of aesthetic from a talent who, along with Sandy Denny and Jacqui McShee, literally defined these terms for the British folk genre. There are many guests on this ten-song set, including Kate and Joe Rusby; Martin and Eliza Carthy; Van Dyke Parks; Dave Mattacks; Chris Cutler; Dave Pegg; Rufus and Martha Wainwright; Danny Thompson; ex-husband Richard; daughter Kamila Thomspson; and, her prime songwriting collaborator and guitarist, son Teddy Thompson. Produced by Edward Haber, who helped her assemble her retrospective Dreams Fly Away, Fashionably Late is devoid of special effects or studio magic. In stark contrast to One Clear Moment, her first solo effort, this is, primarily, a folk record that harkens back to the recordings that defined her voice without going into the past for material. And it is the voice that defines these songs. Ms. Thompson and/or son Teddy wrote or co-wrote the lion's share of the material here. Songs such as the opener "Dear Mary," offered in a lilting, country-ish vein, illustrate that economy of musical and lyrical language often adds to the emotional power a song is capable of deliver. This track in particular is of interest in that it features a reunion with Richard on guitar and backing vocals, as well as being the first ever track on which the entire family is featured along with bassist Danny Thompson (no relation). The confidence Thompson has, perhaps due in no small part to the appearance of her son at her side, is simply astonishing. In the Scottish murder ballad "Nine Stone Rig," she recounts a tale so chilling and bleak, one would think the murderer had sung it. On "The Banks of the Clyde," which Ms. Thompson wrote for her brother, she recounts with a staggering sense of heartbreak a broken woman's reiterating her life in a letter, and the fervent wish to return home. Lal Waterson's "Evona Darling" is executed with crystalline purpose and majesty, as Linda and Teddy trade verses and Parks accompanies the lone acoustic guitar on accordion. There is humor, too, on "Weary Life," co-written by the Thompsons in which a married woman of some years recounts how being single is the only choice for a woman in the present day. With a sardonic delivery and Eliza Carthy's violin playing a lyrical counterpoint, the irony and wit is both unmistakable and refreshing. One of the album's standout tracks in both quality and originality is "Paint and Powdered Beauty" that Linda Thompson co-wrote with Rufus Wainwright. It's a ballad that, with its lush string arrangement and subtle cast melody, could have been written by Jerome Kern or Sammy Cahn. Martin Carthy's exquisitely chosen chord shapes in counterpoint to the string section are breathtaking. Thompson's ability to carry a song like this, so completely at odds with her forte, is a testament to her virtuosity. Despite the fact that Fashionably Late took literally years to make, it's remarkable sequencing and continuity leave no seams. This is a comeback record to be proud of; it not only sates the appetite of those fans who felt Linda Thompson left the scene too abruptly, but it is also the British folk record that everyone interested in the genre has been waiting such a long time for.
Rolling Stone - Mark Kemp
A long overdue gem from one of rock & roll's finest voices.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/30/2002
Label:
Rounder / Umgd
UPC:
0011661318229
catalogNumber:
613182

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Linda Thompson   Primary Artist,Guitar,Tambourine
Martin Carthy   Acoustic Guitar
Kathryn Tickell   Northumbrian Smallpipes
Van Dyke Parks   Accordion,Hammond Organ
Richard Thompson   Electric Guitar
Jerry Donahue   Electric Guitar
Richard Greene   Fiddle
Dave Pegg   Mandolin,Acoustic Bass
Geraint Watkins   Hammond Organ
Chris Cutler   Drums
Jeff Berman   Tambourine,Snare Drums
Peter Adams   Keyboards
Andy Cutting   Accordion (Diatonic)
Robert Kirby   Conductor
Dave Mattacks   Drums
John McCusker   Cittern
Michael Rivard   Electric Bass
Rory McFarlane   Bass
Eliza Carthy   Fiddle,Vocal Harmony
Kate Rusby   Acoustic Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Sara Wilson   Cello
Martha Wainwright   Background Vocals
Rufus Wainwright   Background Vocals
Philip Pickett   Crumhorn
Howard Gott   Violin
Andy Waterworth   Double Bass
Teddy Thompson   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Ruth Gottlieb   Violin
Sophie Sarota   Viola
Robert Spriggs   Viola

Technical Credits

Geoff Muldaur   Fiddle Arrangement,Accordian Arranger
John Wood   Engineer
Tom Dube   Engineer
Edward Haber   Producer,Engineer
Rob Keyloch   Engineer
Robert Kirby   String Arrangements
John McCusker   Arranger,Producer
Linda Thompson   Composer
Mark Tucker   Engineer
Lal Waterson   Composer
Kate Rusby   Arranger
Tom Leader   Engineer
Teddy Thompson   Composer,Producer
Richard Barron   Engineer
Eve Seltzer   Engineer
Stephen Heller   Engineer

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