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Fashionably Late

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Better late than never indeed. The queen of British folk returned after a 17-year recording hiatus, her warm, weary alto recovered from a disorder that literally stole her voice. The album starts with a surprise: former husband Richard plays guitar and sings on the chorus of the deceptively cheery folk-rocker “Dear Mary.” The moment is low-key, especially considering this is the woman who once bloodied her ex’s forehead with a microphone. Five of the songs were written with son Teddy, whose guitar playing and backing vocals are featured throughout, notably on the achingly lovely harmonies of Lal Waterson’s “Evona Darling.” (Daughter Kamila also joins in for a few tracks, and other well-known guests include Kate Rusby, Rufus Wainwright, even Van Dyke Parks.) Thompson's spare, somber songs are brand new, but they sound centuries old, like Childe ballards just unearthed. “Miss Murray” reveals a spinster’s secrets; “On the Banks of the Clyde” finds a prostitute longing for home; and “Weary Life” plays like a music-hall version of the Carter Family’s “Single Girl.” Only on the stunning closing number does a more personal note intrude: “Here’s to the man that we thought was dead/ Singing like he’s got a gun to his head/ Hanging on sweet notes and a thread/ Dear old man of mine.”


Born: 1948 in Hackney, London, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Born Linda Pettifer, Linda Thompson, then known as Linda Peters, made an inauspicious debut as half of Paul & Linda in 1968. The duo, which included singer Paul McNeill, recorded two singles, the first being a cover of Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" for MGM in the U.K. In 1972, following a couple of years of session work, singing commercial jingles, and working the folk clubs around London, she teamed with friend Sandy Denny and other assorted members of the British folk-rock scene to record...
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