As a big fan of Richard Thompson’s solo work, I can tell you without hesitation that Sweet Warrior is my favorite release since the brilliance of 1991’s Rumour & Sigh.
Released today on Shout! Factory, the new record goes eclectic without compromising the virtuoso guitar skills Thompson is so well known for. Guitar-heads will indeed be pleased, but it’s the song-craft that brings Sweet Warrior to the level of a “must have” release.
Driving, bluesy numbers collide with sophisticated Americana and some political tracks that would make even Steve Earle smile. As you listen to this master work, it’s hard not to think that it may be Richard Thompson’s crowning jewel. A highlight in a career that has issued more than 30 records over 40 years.
Song after song, Sweet Warrior finds RT 100% at ease and in complete control of what he lays before us. The production is about a flawless as it gets. You feel as if you can almost crawl into the thick and woody acoustic bass on “Take Care The Road You Choose” and the guitar lines throughout are as flawless as they are crisp.
Sweet Warrior is filled with only two types of songs, good ones and great ones.
Each track has a dark quality, whether speaking about divorce, infidelity, or war. This melancholia ties the whole album together as a cohesive and focused work. In regards to tempo and mood, Sweet Warrior ebbs and flows just enough to hold interest without making ripples large enough to cause waves in the experience. This fact was either a lucky coincidence, or the mark of someone who has matured to the point of being one of a few village elders.
Of all the great tracks found here, my favorite is the Celtic-tinged “Johnny’s Far Away” which features a cameo role by Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins.
No matter how Richard Thompson came up with this one, it’s a welcome and crucial addition to his catalogue, and one can only hope that he will hold onto whatever inspiration he’s found.
Listen to this album in full via Rhapsody by clicking here.
1. Needle And Thread
2. I’ll Never Give It Up
3. Take Care The Road You Choose
4. Mr. Stupid
5. Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
7. Bad Monkey
9. Too Late To Come Fishing
10. Sneaky Boy
11. She Sang Angels To Rest
12. Johnny’s Far Away
13. Guns Are The Tongues
14. Sunset Song