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Richard Thompson: Mock Tudor


Richard Thompson

Album: Mock Tudor

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With Danny Thompson (no relation), Richard Thompson turned his attention to the rise and decline of Britain in the machine age on 1997's Industry, so it only makes sense that industry's aftermath would serve as the background of Mock Tudor. Named for the identity-crisis-stricken pseudo-antique style of architecture that dominates England's suburbs, Mock Tudor finds Thompson turning his attention to civilization and its discontents in the post-industrial age. Not that you'd notice if it weren't for the album's title and track arrangement, which groups its 12 songs into three categories ("Metroland," "Heroes In The Suburbs," and "Street Cries And Stage Whispers"). Expressions of contemporary discontent, heartbreak, and sad stories have long been elements of Thompson's solo work, and Mock Tudor is no exception. More than usual, however, the "dead-end street" The Kinks sang about, whether literal or metaphorical, seems to provide the home for his songs. The opening lines of the first track, "Cooksferry Queen," set the stage: "There's a house in an alley / in the squats and low rise / of a town with no future / but that's where my future lies." Whether addressing doomed love ("Two-Faced Love," "Walking The Long Miles Home") or economic despair ("Sights And Sounds Of London Town"), this is an album about hopelessness that doesn't let its subject bog it down, bringing with it all the memorable songwriting and uncannily gifted playing (he's rarely sounded fiercer than on "Hard On Me") expected of a Richard Thompson album. Produced by Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith) with spaciousness and clarity, it's an album of beauty and sadness that recognizes how one depends on the other.