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.
Performance CreditsRichard 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 CreditsRichard 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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sweet Warrior based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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.
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.