Sound — 7
First off, let's start by stating this is a compilation album. It features some unreleased material, which is great. Some tracks are demos, alternate takes, ASO.
Some tracks feature Richard Thompson, so it's OK guitar-wise, but the centerpiece is clearly Linda's voice. Some tracks are from her '80s solo album which has unfortunately a very '80s feeling and instrumentation (the slow piano, keyboards, echo-y vocals). Other than that, her voice is impeccable, her timings are amazing and the selection of songs is pretty cool. It serves as the perfect introduction to her music.
Lyrics — 8
10 tracks were written by Richard Thompson, so the quality of the lyrics is assured. His songs are sad, depressing and pessimistic as usual, which is cool.
6 songs were written by Linda although only "Talking Like a Man" was written 100% by her, and all the other were collaborations either with Richard Thomson or Betty Cook. Her work with her former husband is pretty cool, deep, sad, all their usual stuff. Her work with Cook was mostly written in the '80s after her divorce and are tracks featured on her "One Clear Moment" album, which could easily become any 50 year old woman's favorite album, filled with '80s ballads and stuff. I'll admit I've been listening to this tracks a lot more nowadays and I already love "Telling Me Lies," which I sing in the shower on a daily basis.
The rest of the songs are traditional or written by other people. There's a curious song, "Sometimes It Happens" which sucks a-s: lazy lyrics, trying hard to give a lesson or whatever. I wouldn't have included that track anywhere. I know she recorded it with a full band, 'cause that version is featured on another compilation, "Give Me a Sad Song." That version sucks as well. Can't get over the lyrics "sometimes it happens that you are friends but then you're not friends." I'm no lyricist but, ¿Really? ¿What the hell?
Linda does one hell of a job singing every song, she has the same style as Sandy Denny, kind of acting the characters or the feelings displayed on the lyrics, she has this very particular way to transmit emptiness, sadness, ASO. Very beautiful.
Overall Impression — 9
It's quite a different compilation album from "Give Me a Sad Song." This one features all the well known songs or the ones more easily listenable. I'd recommend this album to anyone who wanted to get into Richard and Linda Thompson's career or into Linda's new career after the breakup.
I don't think the '80s songs would work today, tough. Those songs sound dated, even more so than "Blackwaterside" and that one is like three hundred years old. This are the standout tracks (only included the "new" ones, since most of the songs had already been released.
"I Live Not Where I Love" - from Simon Nicol's album. It's a rare track, I never heard it before and thought it was pretty cool. One of my favourite tracks on this album.
"The Great Velario" - Amazing live version featuring Richard on guitar and Linda on vocals. She shines on this one. Her tempo is very complex.
"Blackwaterside" - I knew Linda and Sandy Denny were both fans of Anne Briggs. Denny's over of Briggs' "Blackwaterside" sucks with a heavily elaborated instrumentation. Linda's version on the other hand has just an acoustic guitar accompanying her and sounds amazing, motherly, down to earth. Just beautiful.
"Dimming of the Day" - Linda stated this had always been her favorite song. This is a version with a different band. Richard Thompson is not featured on this version. It's amazing as well.
The thing I love the most about the album is her vocal skill. I envy all the emotion she shares through this songs. I could never thing like this. I feel this album takes me to a special place, quiet, lonely but not sad. I hate "Sometimes It Happens" and I have no love for "Shay Fan Yan Ley."
If I lost this compilation, I'd be screwed since I live in Perú and England is quite far from here so I'd have no chance to get it again. If I ever went to the UK, I'd purchase an extra copy to hide under my llama just in case I ruin my current copy.