TEDDY Thompson, the English singer and songwriter long resident in New York City, will play Pocklington Arts Centre on January 22 2021.
He will be showcasing his sixth solo studio album, Heartbreaker Please, set for release on May 29 on Thirty Tigers, a launch put back from its original April 24 pitch.
Teddy, 44-year-old son of folk luminaries Richard and Linda Thompson, will be supported by another artiste with a folk-roots heritage: Roseanne Reid, eldest daughter of The Proclaimers’ Craig Reid.
“Here’s the thing, you don’t love me anymore,” sings the frank Thompson on his new album. “I can tell you’ve got one foot out the door.”
From the off, Heartbreaker Please wrestles with the breakdown of love with wistful levity and devastating honesty. The songs are drawn from the demise of a real-life relationship, set against the backdrop of New York City, the place Thompson has called home for the better part of two decades, having left London for the USA at 18 and settled in the Big Apple five years later.
“I took a summer vacation that never ended,” he says. “In retrospect, I was trying to reinvent myself. It was easier to leave it all behind, go somewhere new and declare myself an artist. And you can actually re-invent yourself in America; step off the plane, say ‘my name is Teddy Thompson, I’m a musician’.”
Six albums have arrived since 2000, spanning rock and country, pop and folk. “Who do I sound like? I think I sound like myself,” Thompson says. “There’s a strong element of British folky in me, it’s in the blood, and I heard the wonderful music of my parents around me as a young child.
“Then there was the 1950s’ American pop and country that I fell in love with, plus the ’80s’ pop music that was in the charts at the time.”
From a young age, Sam Cooke, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and The Everly Brothers made up the bulk of Thompson’s listening, along with select contemporary tunes heard on Top Of The Pops: A-ha, Culture Club and Wham.
“As a teenager, I couldn’t talk to my friends about Fifties’ rock’n’roll. I wasn’t cool enough to be that different. I’d say Crowded House was the first contemporary band I really found that I liked, that was socially acceptable,” he says.
“Today? I like to think my taste in music is catholic, I listen to whatever catches my ear, I don’t care about genre. There’s only two types of music, good and bad.”
On Heartbreaker Please,Thompson incorporates elements of Sixties’ doo-wop on Record Player and Eighties’ synth sounds on the epic No Idea, but his first musical love always will be rock’n’roll, country and pop.
“I’m completely enamoured with the three-minute pop song,” he says. “Maybe it’s conditioning if you hear enough of it, but the brevity of those songs, I always thought that was ideal. Trim the fat.
“Those songs are from a time when the song itself was important and would live on. If it was great, people would cover it. So, I still think that way, write a great song first. I try to be succinct and witty, but also cut to the heart in a matter of two or three minutes. I may never write a song as good as Chuck Berry’s Maybelline or The Everly Brothers’ Cathy’s Clown, but those are the touchstones for me.”
In a departure for Thompson, at the [broken] heart of Heartbreaker Please are references to someone else doing the heart-breaking. “I’m usually the one who does that!” he says. “A defence mechanism, of course, but all of a sudden I was the one on the back foot. I was the ‘plus 1’, and I admit, I didn’t deal with it very well. But also, don’t date actors.”
The relationship ended just as Thompson was finishing writing the songs that would become Heartbreaker Please. “I tend to write sad songs, slow songs. It’s what comes naturally,” he says.
“So I tried to make an effort here to set some of the misery to a nice beat! Let the listener bop their heads while they weep.”
After releasing his self-titled debut in 2000, Thompson went on tour as part of Roseanne Cash’s band. Since then he has collaborated with good friends Martha and Rufus Wainwright and contributed to numerous tribute projects, most notably two songs for the Leonard Cohen covers’ collection, I’m Your Man, and two to the Nick Drake retrospective, Way To Blue, too.
Thompson has produced albums for Americana singer-songwriters Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne, Dori Freeman and his mother, Linda Thompson. Last year, he added Roseanne Reid’s debut, Trails, to that list: an album that featured a duet with Steve Earle, by the way.
Teddy’s father, Richard Thompson, was to have played the closing concert at this summer’s Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington, on July 15 but the event was de-railed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Negotiations are under way with all the acts, Thompson included, to take part in the 2021 festival.
Tickets for Teddy Thompson’s 8pm gig are on sale at £20 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.