Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
Good album - change the producer
on 11 March 2013
As some sensible reviewers have said - this is a good, but not a great Richard Thompson album. It does not compare favourably with the likes of Hand Of Kindness, Across A Crowded Room or Daring Adventures, but it is still a good RT album; and as such is in a different league to most other artists in popular music. RT continues to write excellent songs and play superb guitar, but on this album, there is a problem.
The problem is production. The sound is very thick and foggy in the mid range that renders some of RT's great guitar almost unlistenable. I am afraid that Buddy Miller and his more popular counterpart T Bone Burnett are very much in vogue; but very much overrated. They seem to think that finding an analogue-type sound is the sort of thing that the critics want to hear ; and hence get themselves another financial commission. On this evidence, BM (& TBB) need to get their ears syringed. The production detracts from the song's melody and presence; and the sort of detail you need in an RT song is just not discernable. I found exactly the same evidence in TBB's production of Diana Krall's Glad Rag Doll album, which has resulted in the worst recording of her career. Where Buddy Miller has gone wrong is that he has tried to produce a "sound" for RT which has simply backfired. He should look to the transparency of RT's best producers - namely Joe Boyd and Mitchell Froom, where their production is sympathetic and non-intrusive. And clear.
The best example I can offer is that I saw RT tour this album just a few days ago, and the song Stuck On The Treadmill demonstrated fine lead guitar and bass interplay, which just doesn't happen on this recording. The mix should be upfront and punchy (as it was live), rather than drenched in aural greyness.
There may well be a couple of RT potential classics on this record (Salford Sunday, My Enemy), but it's all too difficult trying to find them through this audio fog provided by Buddy Miller.