Richard Thompson was one of the founders of the influential British folk group Fairport Convention in the late 1960s. The singer and guitarist has gone on to a solo career and he has released dozens of albums, including a few that are considered classics. But you surely aren't alone if you've never heard of him.

Well, our critic Meredith Ochs wants to bring everyone into the fold. Here is her review of Richard Thompson's latest CD called "Sweet Warrior."

(Soundbite of song "Needle and Thread")

Mr. RICHARD THOMPSON (Singer): (Singing) I see young girls with old faces...

MEREDITH OCHS: Richard Thompson is known as the Michael Jordan of guitar; one of the top 20 guitarists of all time, according to Rolling Stone magazine. His playing is lyrical and sometimes manic, but he's always astonishing. This is Thompson's first electric-guitar album in four years. And even though it sounds like he's taking it easy, you can still hear why he's incomparable when it comes to string bending.

(Soundbite of song "Needle and Thread")

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) I'm going to sew my soul back together again.

OCHS: It's no surprise that Richard Thompson's skill as a guitar god comes across on this CD. But it was a surprise when he uploaded one of his new songs to The Huffington Post before the album was released. It's called "Dad's Gonna Kill Me," the dad being Baghdad. The lyrics are a first-person account of a young soldier fighting in Iraq. Thompson said he was inspired to write the song after he visited a Web site written by GIs in their own language. His creative approach makes the song work.

(Soundbite of song "Dad's Gonna Kill Me")

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) 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. Nobody loves me here, nobody loves me here. Dad's gonna kill me. Dad's gonna kill me. Dawn Patrol went out and didn't come back. Hug the wire and pray like I told you, Mac, or they'll be shoveling bits of you into a sack.

OCHS: Richard Thompson gets it right with a political song on his new record. But personal politics has long been his forte, especially since 1982, when he made the ultimate break-up album, "Shoot Out the Lights," with soon-to-be ex-wife, Linda Thompson. He continues that tradition on the new CD, combining his grim view of relationships with his dry British wit. This song, about an unhappy couple who cheat when they're apart and then reunite as if nothing happened, is as funny as it is sad.

(Soundbite of song "Johnny's Far Away")

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) Johnny's home, he opens up his door while someone's sneaking out the back. And Tracey says, you look so poorly, sores and all, you need to see the quack. She wipes the snot from off the kiddies' noses. He charms her with eleven battered roses. And by and by they get down to the job of man and wife back to the old comforts of the missionary life. While Johnny's far away on the rolling, rolling, Johnny's far away on the rolling sea. Johnny's far away on the rolling, rolling...

OCHS: Maybe it's hard to get excited when a prolific artist like Richard Thompson, who has put out so many great albums, releases yet another good record. But I'm one Thompson fan who is still captivated by his artistic process, his musicianship and his sense of humor, all of which this new CD offers.

BLOCK: Richard Thompson's latest CD is called "Sweet Warrior." Our reviewer, Meredith Ochs, is a D.J. on Sirius Satellite Radio's Outlaw Country channel.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.