Superlatives fail to justly describe the voice of Linda Thompson. Steely yet vulnerable, comforting yet haunting, Thompson's singing is never less than riveting, and has played a crucial role in some of the most powerful, influential music of the past thirty years. On Versatile Heart, only her third solo album, Thompson demonstrates that, in addition to being an incomparable interpreter, she is an equally astonishing songwriter - stitching traditional British Isles music and more contemporary influences into a sound that is expressive and direct, yet timeless. From the brass-flecked acoustic pop of the title track to the cool rockabilly of "Do Your Best for Rock 'n Roll," her writing forms the core of Versatile Heart. Other writers represented on Versatile Heart include Thompson's son Teddy, daughter Kamila, Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, and Rufus Wainwright, who contributes the devastating "Beauty," performed as a duet with Antony.
Featuring Teddy Thompson, Antony, Martin Carthy, Martha Wainwright, Kamila Thompson, Eliza Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, and more. "One of rock & roll's finest voices..."-Rolling Stone "One of the loveliest, most dramatic voices in the English language..."-No Depression
Acoustic balladry exquisitely arranged highlights the first album from Linda Thompson in five years (and only her second in 22). With even much of the original material steeped in English traditionalism, the album recalls the best of her early work with former husband Richard, though the romantic recriminations of the title track and "Go Home" showcase a songwriter who has very much found her own voice. Her key collaborator is son Teddy, who cowrote four songs with Linda as well as the instrumental that opens and closes the album. Daughter Kamila Thompson contributes "Nice Cars," perhaps the most contemporary-sounding track, as well as harmonies on a stripped-down rendition of "Day After Tomorrow" by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. Perhaps the most striking track is "Beauty," written for Thompson by Rufus Wainwright, with chamber strings, a bluesy undercurrent, and tremulous harmony vocals by Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons). Thompson doesn't release many albums, but she has never crafted a more cohesive and consistently inspired one than this. --Don McLeese