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Richard Thompson - Acoustic Classics II (Beeswing)

Richard Thompson returns with his trusty Louden to deliver the second helping of outstanding acoustic performances; two-way family favourites rescued and warmly refurbished from his own vast back catalogue. His Fairport days are fondly recalled in Genesis Hall, previously investigated in a similar manner on 1984's acoustic live set SMALL TOWN ROMANCE. There's the enduring Meet on the Ledge, which here steps aside from the familiar Cropredy crowd sing-a-long in favour of the touching meditation on friendship it really is. If that's not all, then the utterly gorgeous Crazy Man Michael makes a welcome return, reminding us once again that although songs are generally performed best by their author(s), in this case Thompson and Dave Swarbrick, it reminds us once again how Sandy Denny's reading of the song back in 1969 continues to send a different kind of shiver. With the ghosts of Sandy and Swarb perched upon RT's shoulder, and acknowledging that the proverbial bird of youth has long flown, it's actually rewarding to hear these songs performed once again from a mature perspective and in their much appreciated stripped down form. 

Devonside thoroughly deserved to be on the first volume of acoustic classics and therefore arrives a little late to the party, wearing its 'classic' title with pride. This second volume also delves into more recent solo endeavours, relatively speaking, with such inclusions as Gethsemane and Bathsheba Smiles from the late 1990s MOCK TUDOR set, with Guns are the Tongues, being the most recent song, originally from Thompson's 2007 album SWEET WARRIOR and here featuring some additional mandolin and layered vocals. Each of these songs sound refreshingly new once again but perhaps the most pleasing are those from the troubled and much lamented duo years when he and his then wife Linda wore their hearts very much on their respective sleeves, here remembered with a delicate reading of A Heart Needs a Home, which is as powerfully emotive as ever. With fourteen classic songs already covered on the first volume, this edition just goes to further demonstrate how important Richard Thompson's songwriting credentials really are.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky