#22: RICHARD AND LINDA THOMPSON - "I WANT TO SEE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS TONIGHT" (1974)

As you may have gathered by now, folk is not really how I'm musically orientated. In my teens I didn't go much further beyond listening to Nick Drake. Even that was mostly at night, as his seemed to be the only voice that could dampen my brain during a particularly bad bout of insomnia. The rest seemed to be dusty warbling about fairies. Unfair of me, I know. But thanks to this project I'm unfurling, with caution, towards dispelling my prejudices. I have not been all that well recently. You know, in the head. I won't go into details here but what does tend to help is discovery. Finding something unexpected, sticking with it and seeing what it has to tell me. I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight helped.

There aren't too many overtly folk references - or at least, not the totemic concept of folk that loomed in my understanding - to be found here. Some thieving, some yellow hair, some twiddly-sounding pipes and strings but nothing to overwhelm a folkophobic like yours truly. Linda Thompson, nee Peters, has a voice that carries such attitude and strength whilst singing, essentially, about giving up, that the contrast makes for an invigorating and pithy listen. The title track, for example, manages to capture the determination and regret of wanting to get really, really drunk. Wanting things you shouldn't want, knowing that and doing them all the same is something the Thompsons do a good line in. Catchy, too.

What struck me is not only how modern but also nuanced the tone of the whole album is, harking back to England's musical heritage but presenting contemporary concerns. Perhaps it helps that I am uncharacteristically prepared in writing this, so when I began listening on Monday, the mere mention of the same day's claustrophobic effects on opening track When I Cross the Border made me feel immediately in sync with the Thompsons. That they were speaking to me now. That the frustrations they describe and the sensations they evoke are nothing new. Disenfranchisement, apathy and resigned cabin fever all feature. Oddly comforting, the cyclical nature of these things. 

If that's what folk has to offer and I've missed that, that's on me.