Richard Thompson, "Dream Attic": Thompson is the definition of a cult artist, known for his stellar acoustic guitar playing and book of songs, both traditional and his own. With "Dream Attic," Thompson "goes electric," and it's bracing to say the least.
Recorded live in February, the 13-song set kicks off with the anti-banker screed "The Money Shuffle," takes a look at "Burning Man," delivers some Southern flavor on "Haul Me Up" and creates characters from the self-involved pop star of "Here Comes Geordie" to "Sidney Wells," the criminal "hero" of a murder ballad.
There are chorus vocals, some violins here and horns there and a whole lot of Thompson's great lyrics, delivered in his reedy voice that's as comfortable in the electric setting as it is in acoustic mode. The crowd of Thompson fanatics clearly loved the show. The rest of his cult likely will, too. Grade: B+
Heart, "Red Velvet Car": This, the 13th studio album from Heart, sounds much like the previous 12 - a collection of 10 classic rock songs that showcase the vocals of Ann Wilson.
The disc kicks off with the acoustic-driven shake of opener "There You Go," shifts to the rumble of "WTF" and talks about friendship on the title cut. That mixture of style and sentiment - from power ballad to rocker to storysong - carries the guitar-driven record, which has plenty of punch and dynamics.
Heart isn't doing anything remotely new on "Red Velvet Car." But they do what they do well. Grade: B
Both albums were released Tuesday.