A legend trades the studio for the stage
Minus the applause, you wouldn’t know that Richard Thompson’s Dream Attic is a live album. The former Fairport Convention lead guitarist supposedly chose this setting for its inherent spontaneity, but the songs are played, produced and mixed with such flawless precision that they’re missing the color and blemishes of an actual live show. That’s not to say the album lacks spirit; it could just be that, after 40 years as a performer, he doesn’t make mistakes. Dream Attic, which contains all new material, was recorded over three nights at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco earlier this year. Thompson leads a minimally rehearsed band through an eclectic set of songs, from a snarling rebuke of Wall Street fat cats (“The Money Shuffle”), to a claustrophobic murder ballad (“Sidney Wells”), to a gospel-tinged tribute to deceased friends (“A Brother Slips Away”). Though devoid of wobbly notes and feedback echos, Thompson unleashes some of the most visceral guitar solos of his career, and Dream Attic stands beside the best efforts in his catalog.