It's A Family Affair On Linda Thompson's 'Won't Be Long Now' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

It's A Family Affair On Linda Thompson's 'Won't Be Long Now'

Play associated audio

Linda Thompson is probably best known for the albums she recorded with her husband Richard Thompson in the '70s and early '80s. They divorced, and Thompson has maintained a sporadic solo career. Her new album is a family affair, featuring some accompaniment by her ex-husband, and some songs written with her son, the singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson.

"It Won't Be Long Now" ends Won't Be Long Now, but it can stand as a kind of explanation — a manifesto, were this assiduously modest woman inclined to such things — of the state of mind she's in throughout this album. It's very much the song of a performer in her mid-60s, deciding that there's no time or sense in holding anything back. And so she offers playful, unique songs such as "Mr. Tams," a tip of her hat to her friend, the actor-musician John Tams, in a melody that sounds like an old English folk song.

Throughout Won't Be Long, Thompson's voice is both strong and delicate. The album favors simple arrangements that showcase Linda's precise yet fluid phrasing. You can hear a fine example of this on the swirlingly beautiful song that commences this collection, an original called "Love's for Babies and Fools." In her liner notes, Thompson says she wrote it for Rufus Wainwright — one of Linda's close friends was his mother, Kate McGarrigle. Oh, and Linda's ex-husband Richard plays acoustic guitar on this. "Love's for Babies and Fools" has a lovely, funny, bittersweet quality.

It's one thing to invite your family to join in in recording an album. It's another level of happy generosity when Thompson puts her three children, Teddy, Kami and Muna, singing in harmony at the start of Anna McGarrigle's "As Fast My Feet." Then she lets Kami continue to sing the lead, with Linda relegating herself to backup vocals. Mother's pride and a good result all around.

There are many times here when Won't Be Long Now achieves a kind of instant timelessness. It sounds like a collection of songs that could have been sung a hundred years ago, or written and recorded just a few weeks ago. Given how infrequently Linda Thompson records, we should feel all the more lucky she's decided to let loose with these songs of love's fate and no regrets.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

In An Earthquake, History Fuels One Writer's Anxiety

An earthquake in Napa Valley this week brought back old fears for author Gustavo Arellano. In his anxiety he's revisiting the book A Crack in the Edge of the World.
NPR

Real Vanilla Isn't Plain. It Depends On (Dare We Say It) Terroir

There's no such thing as plain vanilla — at least if you're talking about beans from the vanilla orchid. Whether it's from Tahiti or Madagascar, vanilla can be creamy, spicy or even floral.
NPR

Federal Judge Blocks Texas Restriction On Abortion Clinics

Requiring every center that performs abortions to meet all the standards of a surgical center is excessively restrictive, says the federal district court judge who blocked the state rule Friday.
NPR

An App Can Reveal When Withdrawal Tremors Are Real

You probably haven't thought about whether your phone could help diagnose alcohol withdrawal. Well, it can. An app for doctors measures tremors and may help tell if someone's faking it to get drugs.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.