Album Review: Front Parlour Ballads by Richard Thompson
Fantastic, Based on 2 Critics
AllMusic - 90 Based on rating 9/10
As a live performer, Richard Thompson has become nearly as well known for his dazzling solo acoustic performances as he has for his blazing full-band electric sets, but he hasn't displayed nearly as much enthusiasm for the acoustic guitar in the studio, usually limiting himself to one or two non-electric tunes on each of his albums (though 1996's You? Me? Us? features one disc of electric performances and another of acoustic material). Front Parlour Ballads marks Thompson's first full studio album of acoustic-oriented material since 1981's Strict Tempo!, and unlike that album, which was dominated by traditional material, this set features a bakers' dozen Thompson songs. Thompson also recorded and produced this set all by his lonesome in his home studio, and while the man has always shown good taste in collaborators, Front Parlour Ballads reveals how bright he can shine on his own.
Richard Thompson has attracted some obsessive fans over the years, so perhaps it's only right to start with a few statistics. It's 37 years since he recorded his first album with Fairport Convention, and 33 since his first solo set, Henry the Human Fly. It's been 24 years since he recorded a solo acoustic album, Strict Tempo! But he has never, until now, recorded a solo acoustic album of original songs.