An entire studio album of Richard Thompson re-imagining a batch of his songs as acoustic performances is truly way overdue. The program is drawn from his entire post-Fairport Convention career both solo and with Linda Thompson from “I Want to See The Bright Lights Tonight” to the relatively recent “Persuasion (a co-write with Tim Finn” and “One Door Opens.”
Thompson does not merely state his songs. His guitar work lends fresh approaches to songs he must have performed hundreds of times in many settings from solo to the various band line-ups he has fronted over the years. The little frills he casually tosses into “Walking on a Wire” practically make it a new song. “Wall of Death” has been one of his most electric songs, but here solo and acoustic it acquires a new melancholy sheen. “From Galway to Graceland,” the story song of an Irish housewife’s tragic descent into madness following news of the death of Elvis Presley, receives its first Richard Thompson studio recording here. “When the Spell Is Broken,” one of Thompson’s darkest songs, and “Shoot Out the Lights,” usually one of his most electric, are both utterly riveting, especially the atonal flickering in “Shoot.”
“1952 Vincent Black Lightning” and “Beeswing” are both songs Richard has often played acoustically all along, and while both are fine performances I kind of wish he’d selected a couple others he could shed new light on instead. There’s really little new about these two.
Overall, though, Richard Thompson’s Acoustic Classics is a very commanding experience. End to end, Thompson reinterprets his songs with passion and new angles and spectacular guitar playing. Every Richard Thompson album is a thriller … and this new one has assumed a place as one of my favorites. I like ’em lean! Very highly recommended.
— Michael Tearson