Highlights: Love’s For Babies and Fools, If I Were a Bluebird, Nursery Rhyme Of Innocence and Experience, Never the Bride
It’s quite surprising that Linda Thompson hasn’t done too many albums since the dark, bittersweet breakup with Richard that was 1982’s Shoot Out The Lights (fantastic LP, though crucially missing the warmth and humour of I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight). There was one decent record back in 1985, and then nothing until the recent resurgence that started in 2002. Won’t Be Long Now is in fact Linda’s third album in about ten years.
All maths, of course. Two things matter, and thankfully it’s neither the cheerless album title nor the equally cheerless cover. Those two things are songs and Linda’s voice. As for the former, they are good (thanks in no small measure to Teddy Thompson, who also plays acoustic guitar and lends vocal harmonies) and perfectly capture the wonderful versatility of folk music. From sad a cappella laments (“Blue Bleezin’ Blind Drunk”, presented here in its unadorned live version) to lightweight, toe-tapping folk-pop (“As Fast As My Feet”) to epic Sandy Denny-esque ballads (“Never the Bride”) to wistful singalongs (the feel-good title track that ends the album, fittingly). But the classic here has to be “If I Were a Bluebird”, a near-seven-minute long ballad that has all the elegant wisdom and depth of Linda’s voice. It really does deserve to be called a folk song of the year, decade or maybe you could go even further. Truly timeless.
And of course the album sounds fantastic, what with quite a number of Thompsons scattered all over this thing. Richard is also here, playing his inimitable guitar on the brilliant opener “Love’s For Babies and Fools”, which is filled with sadness and irony in equal measure. Something folk music has always done so well. So I do hope the title and the cover shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Won’t Be Long Now; for a change, a folk album from someone who understands folk music. In a word, masterful.