Over the course of four solo LPs, the 35-year-old Thompson — son of English folk legends Richard and Linda Thompson — has carved a niche as a sophisticated songsmith with a penchant for bruised romanticism. His fifth and latest LP, Bella (Verve, $14), finds a happy medium between off-the-cuff confessional and polished pop nous.
Like his previous efforts, Thompson’s songs mine a sweet strain of classic American music, from the country-flecked “Delilah” to the Wall of Sound sweep of “Take Me Back Again.” Meanwhile, his contemporaries — everyone from Fleet Foxes to Midlake — have been indulging in the very sort of English folk music that would seem to be Thompson’s birthright.
“It’s funny, but I never heard any English folk music growing up,” Thompson says. “What my mom and dad listened to was a lot of Hank Williams, Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry. I was under the impression that the only viable music was American records made between the years 1955 and 1959. That became my musical heritage, so to speak.”
Thompson concedes that major commercial success — particularly in such a disposable pop-music climate — may be unlikely for him. But he’s willing to settle for something more enduring. “Longevity; that’s definitely the goal to have. My dad has set a really good example of that,” he says. “Just being able to make records and go on tour, you feel you’re one of the lucky few.”