Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Family Bands: Thompson Family


Here we are, halfway through the second week of this theme, we only have one post. I suggested the theme, so it must be a good one. Therefore, I’m going to blame the lack of writing on the fact that it is the summer, and people are on vacation. Also, two of our writers live in a country that just had an abortive coup, and I’ve been busy with work and family obligations.

So, just time for a short piece about an album that came out in late 2014 called Family, from a group simply billed as “Thompson.” It is, overall, a very good album, if not a great album, but well worth checking out. The project began when Teddy Thompson, an excellent singer, songwriter and performer in his own right (when he is paying attention—don’t get me started writing about the time I saw him and he messed up most of his songs.....) reached out to members of his talented extended family to see if there was interest in working on a project. His father, SMM favorite Richard Thompson, and his mother, Richard’s ex-wife and legend in her own right, Linda Thompson, signed on. As did sister Kami and her husband, guitarist James Walbourne (who together make up The Rails). The next generation was also enlisted, including Jack Thompson, Richard’s son from his second marriage, and Zak Hobbs, the son of Richard and Linda’s eldest daughter Muna, who is not a professional musician, but also appears on the album (and drew the cover illustration). There are also contributions from Richard’s daughter-in-law Paulina Lis, Welbourne’s brother Rob and his wife Brooke Gengras.

The songs were, at Teddy’s direction, to be written where each of the writers lived. He gathered the basic tracks, then fleshed them out with overdubs in London and Los Angeles. So not surprisingly, the album jumps around stylistically, although if you listen carefully, there is a certain “Thompson-ness” about the album that somewhat holds it together.

Ultimately, the key song is probably one of the last written, Teddy’s “Family,” that opens the disc and gives it a title. A gentle waltz featuring Teddy, Zak and Linda, it opens:

My father is one of the greats to ever step on the stage,
My mother has the most beautiful voice in the world. 
And I am betwixt and between, Sean Lennon, you know what I mean. 
Born to the manor, never quite clamoring free. 
It’s family, its family. 

My elder sister is pretty than you believe, 
My younger sister is prettier still and can sing. 
And I am the middle child, 
The boy with red hair and no smile, 
Not too secure, very unsure who to be. 
 It’s family, its family. 

Because this is a fairly recent song, I will follow our informal guidelines and not post a downloadable copy of the song. And I can’t find a video just of the song, so the video above is a short “making of” piece about the album, and it does feature some of “Family.”

blog comments powered by Disqus