Another veteran artist delivers a provocative take on living with war
On 1982’s Shoot Out the Lights, Richard Thompson used his formidable arsenal of skills to chronicle the breakup of his marriage. A quarter century later, he turns that same un?inching gaze outward toward various forms of con?ict, from the interpersonal to the global. Dominating Sweet Warrior is “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me,” in which Thompson uses the language of imperiled troops stationed in Baghdad (“Dad” in their lingo), along with his unsurpassed ability to wring complex emotions out of an electric guitar, to craft an unsettlingly vivid (anti-)war song that makes a compelling political point by ignoring politics altogether. The track hits so hard, in fact, that it renders much of the other material inconsequential, especially satirical fare like “Mr. Stupid” and “Bad Monkey.” Comparably heavy songs, like widower’s tale “Poppy-Red” and the bitter “Guns Are the Tongues,” provide some dramatic cohesion to an uneven song cycle that bears the supreme virtue of containing the mother of all protest songs.