The new Richard Thompson album, Acoustic Rarities, arrives barely two short months after the release of its sibling, Acoustic Classics Vol II, and is released both separately, and as a bonus disc to its predecessor.
Where Acoustic Classics Vol II revisited well loved numbers from Thompson’s songbook, Acoustic Rarities takes the opportunity to compliment and contrast by taking the same stripped down approach with some deeper cuts from Thompson’s past, or flipping the approach and revisiting previously sparse numbers with the help of a full band. For most musicians this would seem a rather redundant exercise of wheel spinning, but for Thompson, whose fans are among the most unwaveringly loyal of any act, it has been well worth the time and effort.
Acoustic Rarities is very much one for the fans, those who have cherished Thompson’s 50 years of output and hold him dear. It is an album of intelligent and beautifully performed folk rock, crafted to sound as intimate and personal as possible, with the emphasis on artistry rather than pushing the creative envelope into previously unexplored areas of sound. This is a shrewd move, as the long standing Richard Thompson fans that this album is aimed at just want Richard Thompson to just sound like Richard Thompson. That collaboration with Kate Tempest will just have to wait for now.
It probably goes without saying that Acoustic Rarities may not be the best place to start for the newcomer to Thompson’s work, though given that the two volumes of Acoustic Classics will do this job more than adequately, those that want to explore his work further could do far worse than give this album a chance. Indeed, if you pick up the Acoustic Classics Vol II / Acoustic Rarities double set, you’re well on your way to forming an appreciation of the great man’s work.
In lesser hands, Acoustic Rarities could be a considered filler, but Richard Thompson is one of the few musicians smart enough to ensure that a release like this is a well considered and completely legitimate release. All power to him.
Acoustic Rarities is out on Beeswax now.