When encountering music made by the child of a famous musician, there is always the temptation to make generational comparisons. Teddy Thompson, son of folk stalwarts Linda Thompson and Richard Thompson, does play guitar and is a singer songwriter, but there the comparison must end.
Neither music nor musical tradition is comparable – Thompson’s parents hold the trophy for quintessential English folk music whilst Thompson junior is steeped in country Americana.
Thompson is currently touring his second album, Separate Ways, and the gig starts with the record’s first track Shine So Bright. Thompson stands still, eyes closed, spotlit and with sparse guitar backing he begins the song to a silent and anticipant crowd.
The first line, “I wanna be a huge star that hangs out in hotel bars,” is sung so sweetly – a beautiful start to a set that sees Thompson alternating between the intimate, with just acoustic guitar, and full on classic country with ease.
I Should Get Up is a strangely compelling song, pleasantly driving, and encapsulates much that is interesting about Thompson. This song is an easy listening ditty, a country rock stomp that eases and flows undemandingly, but it is delivered with a quiet charisma that engages the audience immediately, going on to become oddly mesmeric.
Thompson is in friendly form throughout the gig and he is obviously comfortable with the audience. He imparts gems – he recently heard that comedian Dennis Leary has bought the rights to his mother’s life story. Indeed, the only disappointment of the evening is that Linda is not there to sing with her son. She has one of the best voices of her generation. But the audience is treated when Thompson is joined by a hatted and Ugg booted father Richard for You Made It, and although they admit to not having practiced, this is not evident as their guitars mix and mesh beautifully.
Thompson’s voice is also affecting. It is strong, note perfect, sounding more practised than natural with its country twang, evidence of living in the US for 10 years. Still its softness sometimes catches one unaware, and the moment is moving on Separate Ways, the hanging notes touching and sweet, the song exquisite.
The set ends with the gentle Sorry, Thompson choosing to leave us touched rather than roused. He and his band assuredly managed both during this gig. There is no doubt that Thompson wears his country influences on his sleeve, but country is cool and the audience is visibly thrilled. His finely crafted songs and mature performance will surely reach a far bigger audience than those at Dingwalls. Catch him intimate, while you can.