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Richard John Thompson

Illogical Life

(Chicken Wire Records; US: 10 Aug 2006; UK: 10 Jul 2006)

Hey, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re wrong. It’s not Mr. Doom and Gloom from the Tomb, it’s some other British guy. And y’know what? This one’s quite a bit younger and probably just as dramatic. Actually, even more so. Lots of midtempo stuff, heavy on the piano, gives the 21-year-old middle finger to traditional pop song structures, and succeeds in making an album that you won’t absorb in fifty minutes, that you’ll have to PAY ATTENTION TO. And believe me, whatever you give to Illogical Life, it’ll give back in spades. From the get-go, a song called “I’m Awake All Night”, Richard John Thompson sings and plays with a sense of drama unique to British rock/pop/other singers that historically just hasn’t played well over here. We think it’s too theatrical, and thus too fruity, and thus not “rock and roll”, and maybe we’re right, but Thompson cares about as much for that as you should, which is nada. A good half of the songs here will stop you dead in your tracks, not counting “Sleep”, which is guaranteed not to put you to it. That’s one of the few faster numbers here, sporting a Brit-blooze-rock riff straight outta 1971. “Green Eyed” is allegedly the “single”, although “Smokescreen” has sections propulsive enough to send you sprinting for the dancefloor. There are traces of the bolero, the fave of rockers comfortable with the classical wading pool, in “Jester”, and “Wish You Well” has an acoustic-guitar anchor that sets it apart from the rest of the album. “Piano Song” has an appropriately undistinguished title and it’s probably the weakest thing here, but maybe you just have to listen even more carefully to really get that one, who knows? If that’s the case, then so be it, because the rest of Illogical Life will make it worthwhile.

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