Richard Thompson – Bloody Noses EP – ‘Some Old Campaign’

by | Jul 7, 2020 | 0 comments

On July 3rd, 2020 famed guitarist and singer Richard Thompson quietly
released a six track EP via the website Bandcamp. This collection was recorded
during his and all of our recent quarantine during the worldwide Covid-19
pandemic. Thompson, like countless other working musicians has been unable to
perform live (his main source of income) and has cancelled all of his scheduled
concerts as well as his 2020 guitar camp. The one positive result of (if there
is one) of musicians such as Richard being off the road has been a welcome plethora
of home recordings, live streams and stunning new works of musical art which
has been developed during lockdown.

Thompson’s six song EP is titled Bloody Noses and the songs all dangle from the same threads of
confusion, fear, hope and faith. No matter our profession or artistic drive, at
the present we are all facing the same world issues in addition to our own private
battles. Richard Thompson has always been adept at bringing the dark into the
light and revealing to his listeners that no matter how black the
evening, we may never witness the dawn, and that is ok.

Recorded at home with all instruments played by himself (guitar, mandolin, percussion) and
additional vocals by his partner Zara Phillips this all acoustic EP features
the usual intelligence, humor and virtuosic playing we have come to expect from
RT. Currently the EP is available as a digital download (both MP3 and FLAC), but during one of his recent live streams RT did say we will see a
physical release at some point.

The EP begins with the track ‘As Soon As You Hear the Bell’.
Using boxing as a life metaphor, Thompson sings richly about accepting the
fights and the injuries that may come, and making sure that when the bell rings
there will be no giving up. A fitting melodic attitude for our current
situations. The hopeful chorus is a cool compress onto the listener’s fresh bruises.  Thompson’s
acoustic playing is a blend of Curtis Mayfield playing an English folk song
groove. Every stringed nuance is magnified through RT’s lacy picking and fresh
vocals.

‘She’s A Hard Girl to Know’ follows next on the EP, and in
the ‘rock room’s opinion stands alone among the six tracks because of its
gossamered picking and shimmering chord changes. The airy arrangement, like many
of RT’s songs allow for the narrative to peek through the yellowed pages of
melody. Thompson’s construction reflects the ‘unknowability’ of the song’s
subject. This aforementioned thematic approach of the ‘wild woman’ that Thompson
is often attracted to has also played out in classic Thompson tracks like ‘Beeswing’
and Cooksferry Queen’. Here, Thompson per his usual wont, takes a well-worn look at
relationships through a brand new angle and using a specialized lens.

‘If I Could Live My Life Again’, is a track that Thompson
was playing during his most recent acoustic tour of January and February of
2020. In addition, RT took to showcasing it during his recent lockdown live
streams from home. This typically strong RT track plays out as a tender
acoustic blues. Pensive and hopeful, Thompson fingerpicks a muted rock and roll
rhythm that is accentuated by plucky chords and dizzying circular licks. To the ‘rock room’ this track brings to mind the contemplation of a lost chap
walking wet cobblestone streets wondering why he/she went left when the path bared
right. A song of  past regret carried by a melody that moves into the future.

Thompson’s talented partner Zara Phillips joins RT on harmony vocals
for the next song titled, ‘The Fortress’. This substantial cut is chunky and
deliciously catchy. ‘The Fortress’ is our protective shell, our shield, which unfortunately
has been breached by disease, media, and disrespecting friends. Life has been interrupted
by true realities, and how we react to this and protect our ‘Fortress’ is
the true test. Thompson’s verses and melody immediately seep into my head. RT’s
chopped strums work with the lo-fi thumping, allowing his descending vocals to wrap around my synapses. The expansive and soaring chorus diverts from the melody quickly and scrawls
its message across the fortress entry way. Thompson and Phillip’s co mingled vocals inspire hope and
induce chills. A wonderful cut.

Track five of the digital EP is titled ‘Survivor’ and is in
the ‘rock room’s humble opinion a welcome addition to the Richard Thompson
vault of stunning compositions. The song sways with the breeze of a light
country waltz and sings with a glass held high and a nod to another fellow
survivor. Here the instrumentation is some beautifully prickly mandolin drizzled over the top of RT’s acoustic strums. Similarly to all of RT’s most enduring songs, the narrative is the
final puzzle piece fitting into one empty space of 1000 different emotions.
Thompson is offering a cheers to everyone, those who have lost love, misplaced
hope and those who have given up or lost everything but continue to move forward and
live. Thank you Richard for these beautiful songs. 

The final song, ‘What’s up with You?’ moves with a pulse
that RT compared to ‘Celtic Rockabilly’ during his recent online performance of
the song. In addition to this musical clue, Thompson also notes a Buddy holly
influence. The song swings with jolly attitude, with the title line being the axis in which the song
spins. The narrator presses the song’s subject to reveal what exactly the crux of their issue
could be. High speed strumming and pure rock riffing bring RT’s six song
collection to a wonderful but short close.

Per my usual practice of leaving a link of the music I
review, today, I ask if you are reading and are able please visit Richard
Thompson’s band camp page:    https://richardthompson.bandcamp.com/album/bloody-noses-ep
 and make a donation. You will not only
receive an amazing collection of songs, but you will also assist in keeping
Thompson’s head above water during his time off of the road. If you are a fan,
getting this EP is a no brainer. If you are just getting to know RT, donate and
discover.  As previously stated Thompson has said that as things return to a new kind of ‘normal’ his
hope is that these songs will get a physical release (vinyl, CD). He also has
noted that a second collection of songs are in the oven and will come out when fully baked in the next couple of months. In the meantime, let’s ‘now be thankful’ for
the songs RT has provided for all of us ‘survivors’.

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