Allen Thompson’s third full-length is a step forward for the Virginia-based singer-songwriter, as he effectively winds things back to simpler song structures played by an entirely acoustic band. The result, 26 Years, is a tight ten-song album of gospel-flavored, back-porch tunes, the best of which is the tambourine-and-handclaps opener “Forgive Me”. The song establishes the record’s theme of redemption, perseverence, and homecoming, articulated most clearly on “26:1”: “Doubt surrounds the road you’ve taken / You fell down, but brother you ain’t breakin’”. Thompson steps up to the mic like he means it, although he’s guilty of over-emoting now and then, and while his melodies are pleasant and breezy, by the end of the album, he’s recycling some.
The album is a solid Americana effort, one made much better thanks to the dobro playing of Josh Matheny, who appears to be a rising star on that instrument. Matheny’s work on “Virginia” (the state, not a girl) is lovely, and other players, namely Charlie Worsham on banjo and mandolin, add tasteful dressing to the mid-temp cheating song “Lyin’”, another peak moment. Thompson goes for easy rhymes most of the time but sings these songs of the heart with the kind of conviction that will win you over on this unassuming but likable release.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.
// Notes from the Road
"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.READ the article