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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Teddy Thompson

Up Front and Down Low

Review by Gary Hill

Somehow I overlooked this CD when I first got it. I think it’s because I just gave a short listen and heard the seriously old time country music texture and got turned away. Something magical happens when you leave the disc running, though. It becomes one of the most charming and enchanting things to ever grace your CD player. Make no mistake, outside of the modern recording quality it would be every easy to imagine this coming out in the 1950’s. It’s got that genuine old school country sound. The truth of the matter is, though, that type of music had heart, soul and a genuine texture. In so many ways it was superior to the modern pop drivel getting passed off as country music these days. Of course, you can say that about just about any musical style because there’s a certain field of just about any genre that’s all the same – just plain pop garbage shoved down our throats interchangeable across genres. This is definitely not that. It’s got so much charm and credibility that it should be a part of every music fan’s collection – and certainly every country music fan’s collection. This is the real deal – not pop country.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Change Of Heart

The opening track is a mellow and slow moving country number that feels like it could have been released in the 1940s. It's a classy tune that works pretty well at setting the tone for the rest of the disc.

Touching Home
“Touching Home” is no less old school in its delivery, but it’s got a bit more energy. It’s another strong cut.
Walking The Floor Over You
As much as I liked the first two tracks, this one’s even stronger. It’s another classic cover and this time there’s some serious blues infused into the arrangement. Some of the acoustic slide guitar is especially tasty. 
(From Now On All My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers
This one’s closer to the opener in texture. I like it a lot and the lyrics are among the cleverest on show here. 
I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
There’s almost a Caribbean beat to this piece. It’s got more energy than some of the other music, but it also has some of the tasty guitar work like we heard on “Walking The Floor Over You.”
My Heart Echoes
Here it’s brought down about as far as you can with this old school acoustic bluesy country wailer. It’s got a great male and female vocal duet and some seriously down home instrumental work. This might be my favorite cut on show. 
The Worst Is Yet To Come
With a bit of a flourish arrangement for an introduction, this is another slow moving, melancholy country classic. 
My Blue Tears
There’s a bit more of a lush arrangement to this thanks to the inclusion of quite a few strings. This is pretty and a nice piece of variety. It’s just not one of my favorites. 
Down Low
Another slow one, this has a duet on it. It’s a good song. It holds up well despite not being that different from a lot of the other stuff here. The strings do some cool stuff, though. 
You Finally Said Something Good (When You Said Goodbye)
Violin (or should I say “fiddle”?) starts this off in fine fashion. From there we get a rocking little number that’s got as much rockabilly in its midst as it does country. This is as much Stray Cats as George Jones. It’s also got some killer rock and roll guitar soloing. It’s one of my favorites on the set. 
She Thinks I Still Care
Another balladic cut, this is old school country. It’s a good tune, despite not being all that different from the bulk of the set.
Let's Think About Living
Based on a bouncing acoustic guitar outing, this is fun. It’s got a good healthy dosage of Elvis in the mix. It’s also reminiscent of Buddy Holly. It’s the most “different” number here and a lot of fun.  We get an extended period of silence at the end of this. 
Don't Ask Me To Be Friends
A fairly stripped down ballad, this is one of the highlights of the set. The lyrics are all about the ludicrous concept of going from lovers to “just friends.” It’s another duet and a great way to end the disc.
 
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