Teddy Thompson has announced his eighth studio album, My Love Of Country, will be released August 18. True to its title, Thompson offers deeply personal and heartfelt readings of ten classic country songs by songwriters like Buck Owens, Hank Cochran, Eddy Arnold, Cindy Walker and even his own father, Richard Thompson. The collection's first single "A Picture Of Me Without You" (listen/share here), a top ten hit for George Strait in 1972, and its accompanying video (watch/share here), directed by Ethan Covey, is out today
The simplicity and emotional intensity of classic country has been a big part of Thompson's own sound as an artist, which The New York Times called “beautifully finessed” and NPR hailed as “the musical equivalent of an arrow to the heart.” Back in 2007, he explored his roots with Up Front and Down Low, an album of Nashville golden era favorites. And now he's picked up the thread again.
“The goal was to do it in the way that country records I love – mostly from the '60s – were made,” says Thompson. “Everything was mapped out, with charts and string parts in place. The musicians came in, and we cut the songs the way they did back then. We just blazed through them.”
The results are riveting. Thompson's rich, honeyed voice responds beautifully to “A Picture Of Me Without You,” “Cryin' Time,” and other songs of poetic despondence, throwing off both sparks and tears without ever seeming showy. You can hear how he's listened deeply to the genre's masters, absorbing the finer stylistic points of their influence. But rather than imitate, he does something more nuanced and profound. He makes the material his own, and makes the familiar sound new.
Helping Thompson realize his vision for My Love Of Country was multi-instrumentalist producer David Mansfield, whose resume includes touring with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, scoring Oscar-nominated films like The Apostle and years of high-profile session work with the likes of Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams and Dwight Yoakam. Mansfield and Thompson assembled a list of twenty titles, then whittled it down to ten. There are well-known standards, old and new, such as Hank Cochran & Harland Howard's “I Fall To Pieces” (a signature hit for Patsy Cline in 1961), Randy Travis's 1989 western swing-flavored chart-topper “Is It Still Over?” and Cindy Walker's portrait of unrequited love, “You Don't Know Me” (a hit for both Eddy Arnold and Ray Charles). Adding balance are lesser-known gems such as Dolly Parton's 1968 album track “Love and Learn,” Don Everly's “Oh, What A Feeling” and a finely-etched drinking song, “I'll Regret It All In The Morning,” penned by Thompson's father Richard Thompson. Recorded at Mansfield's studio Hobo Sound in Hoboken, NJ, the album balances elegant, wrap-around arrangements with one-take energy. A star-studded group of harmony vocalists, including Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell, Logan Ledger and Aoife O'Donovan, added final touches.
“These are all songs that I've known and loved for years. That's the real key, having them in your body for a long time, decades really. I didn't really have to think at all about how to sing them. I just honored the originals,” explains Thompson. “In my favorite eras of music, it was all about the song. Most of the classics that I know and love were recorded by dozens and dozens of people. And it was all in the service of the song. I grew up with that being the most important thing. For this record, that was a huge part of it. I just want people to hear these songs.”
My Love Of Country
1. A Picture Of Me Without You
2. I Don’t Love You Anymore
3. Crying Time
4. I Fall To Pieces
5. I’ll Regret It All In The Morning
6. Love And Learn
7. Satisfied Mind
8. Oh, What A Feeling
9. Is It Still Over
10. You Don’t Know Me
Available August 18 via Chalky Sounds
on CD, Vinyl & Digital Formats