Review: A fine family album from the Thompsons

AP News
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Posted: Nov 17, 2014 1:51 PM

Thompson, "Family" (Fantasy/Concord)

The dynamics of this supremely talented musical family range far beyond pianissimo and forte.

Teddy Thompson, who spearheaded the "Family" project, exaggerates only a tad when he describes his parents in the opening lyrics. "My father is one of the greats to ever step on the stage; My mother has the most beautiful voice in the world."

Thing is, Richard and Linda Thompson split in 1982, when Teddy was 6. Both parents long ago remarried, but Teddy decided a family album would help with healing, even 32 years later.

And so we have a song contest that is confessional, collaborative and competitive. Teddy, his sister Kami, Richard and Linda contribute two compositions each, while Teddy's brother Jack and nephew Zak Hobbs provide one apiece. Family members take turns pitching in with instrumental support and backing vocals via long-distance overdubs.

The result: lots of good listening and fodder for therapists. Richard and Teddy each perform a kiss-off song. Linda offers tender counsel to her male progeny. Teddy rates one sister as prettier than his other. Kami longs for solitude.

Toward the end, Richard serves up a non sequitur, "That's Enough," a protest song that rails against the one-percenters. Eight relatives sing backing vocals, and, at least musically, family harmony is finally achieved.