Sweet Warrior

Sweet Warrior

3.5 2
by Richard Thompson
     
 
Lovers and soldiers alike strap on guns, knives, and armor on Richard Thompson's first electric album since 2005's The Old Kit Bag. Sweet Warrior has gained mainstream attention from the overtly political "Dad's Gonna Kill Me," where Dad is Baghdad and the soldier's lament ("Dad's in a bad mood, Dad's got the blues, It's someone else's mess that I didn't

Overview

Lovers and soldiers alike strap on guns, knives, and armor on Richard Thompson's first electric album since 2005's The Old Kit Bag. Sweet Warrior has gained mainstream attention from the overtly political "Dad's Gonna Kill Me," where Dad is Baghdad and the soldier's lament ("Dad's in a bad mood, Dad's got the blues, It's someone else's mess that I didn't choose…at least we're winning on the Fox Evening News") is delivered in grunt's argot, but the album is no protest screed. A typically rich tapestry of Thompson characters -- ruffians, rockers, prostitutes, deadbeats, and miscreant children -- populates these songs, and the vigorous tunesmith mines Celtic ballads, reggae, '50s rock 'n' roll, and even a bit of prog picking to deliver their stories. Apart from the despairing GI, there's "Mr. Stupid," a crashing boor with a divorce-court complaint ("When your friends point out you're stuck with a Neanderthal for an ex / Don't worry darling, I'll still sign my name on checks") that offers a more lighthearted rejoinder to 1982's Shoot Out the Lights. And tale of the murderous bandit queen Carrie in the dark "Guns Are the Tongues," set against the Troubles in Northern Ireland, is illuminated by Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins, whose fiddling on the elegiac ballads provides a counterpart to the album's most driving tracks. Full of lyrical fire and vinegary guitar lines, Sweet Warrior shows that Richard Thompson, kicking and scratching his way through his 50s now, is still spoiling for the fight.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
After being given his walking papers by Capitol Records in 2000, Richard Thompson has taken a modest approach to his subsequent studio releases, 2003's The Old Kit Bag (a purposefully spare trio set) and 2005's Front Parlour Ballads (an acoustic collection recorded in Thompson's home studio). But Thompson seems to have relaxed a bit with 2007's Sweet Warrior, which boasts a more expansive sound and ambitious reach than those two albums. Produced by Thompson with his longtime aide de camp Simon Tassano, Sweet Warrior more clearly recalls 1991's Rumor and Sigh than any of Thompson's other albums; it lacks the high gloss of Mitchell Froom's production on that disc, but the broad dynamic between upbeat and dour numbers and the thematic sweep of these 14 songs certainly suggest Thompson was thinking big while making this album, and it suits him. Thompson is able to play his traditional theme of romance on the rocks for laughs on this set with the witty "Needle and Thread" and the droll but pointed "Mr. Stupid," while the sax-infused "Bad Monkey" is downright rollicking and the ska-influenced offbeat of "Francesca" is slinky and sensual. At the same time, Thompson digs deep into more serious themes, especially on the striking "Dad's Gonna Kill Me," a tense first-person tale of a soldier on patrol in Iraq, and while a very different sort of combat frames "Guns Are the Tongues," its story of a dull-witted boy turned against his own interests is equally compelling; both songs show Thompson's narrative skill and gift for wordplay are as strong as ever. Producer Thompson gives guitarist Thompson just the right amount of room to show off his estimable skills on these sessions, and the core band -- bassists Danny Thompson and Taras Prodaniuk, drummer Michael Jerome, and rhythm guitarist Michael Hays -- is as strong and versatile as one could hope for. At 68 minutes, Sweet Warrior feels just a bit overstuffed, especially given the simplicity of its immediate predecessors, but there's a hefty portion of fine songs and masterful playing here, and no one who has ever succumbed to Richard Thompson's magic should pass this up.
USA Today
As emotionally complex as his songs are, Thompson’s guitar work is even more so, by turns sharp and tender, subtle and direct.
Houston Chronicle
Thompson in typically sharp form, playing the blazes out of his guitar, and living up to every bit of his reputation as one of the finest stringmen in the business.
Orange Country Register
Thompson hasn’t made such a full, often roaring, always inviting listen since at least 1999’s Mock Tudor, maybe longer – maybe, as the cultists aver, as far back as 1991’s Rumor and Sigh.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/29/2007
Label:
Shout Factory
UPC:
0826663105551
catalogNumber:
31055
Rank:
69589

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Richard Thompson   Primary Artist,Organ,Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Accordion,Autoharp,Electric Guitar,Harmonium,Vocals,Hand Clapping,Hurdy-Gurdy,Penny Whistle
Michael Jerome   Percussion,Drums
Taras Prodaniuk   Electric Bass
Joe Sublett   Tenor Saxophone
Simon Tassano   Hand Clapping
Danny Thompson   Acoustic Bass
Judith Owen   Hand Clapping,Vocal Harmony
Alan V. Michaels   Violin
Sara Watkins   Fiddle
Joe Buck   Violin
Michael Hays   Rhythm Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Chris Kasych   Hand Clapping
Novi Ola   Viola

Technical Credits

Richard Thompson   Composer,Producer,String Arrangements,Audio Production
Simon Tassano   Producer,Audio Production
Jeff Smith   Art Direction
Quattrocchi   Art Direction
Emily Johnson   Artwork
Jeff Palo   Producer
Doug Tyo   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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Sweet Warrior 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally, we get to hear the tracks RT took out for a test drive back in his Summer '04 Tour through the upper Midwest. "Johnny's Far Away" was as good as I remember hearing live. "Mr. Stupid..." still cracks me up. "Needle and Thread" is an excellent opening track, but the two best tracks - by a long stretch - are "Take Care the Road You Choose" and my favorite, "Guns are the Tongues". Only RT can combine "twine the laurel in your hair" with "marvelled how far his boots flew". The man is still THE rock lyricist and guitarist, without peer. The first single - "Dad's Gonna Kill Me" is trite leftist anti-war twaddle, ironically a song of a CD, Sharia Law would not allow. This is one of the Top 10 CDs of 2007.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Thompson is in good form here and this CD is by no means a failure. However, there does not seem to be the one or two knockout songs like When the Spell is Broken or Hand of Kindness I usually find on his albums. Guns Are The Tounges is the most ambitous track but even it lacks that extra spark. Still, this is grown-up rock with great guitar and Thompson fans will enjoy it.