Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A stirring singer, an emotionally involving songwriter, a virtuoso guitarist—Richard Thompson earns his superlatives every time he steps onstage. In the studio, however, Thompson tends to be less sure-footed, never fully re-creating the mesmerizing intensity he so easily commands in concert. Dream Attic presents him in an ideal setting, capturing 13 new originals culled mostly from live performances recorded earlier this year at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. Tellingly, Dream Attic is stronger on musicianship than songs—there isn’t a “Shoot Out The Lights” or “Small Town Romance” among Thompson’s latest offerings, but he and his four-piece band sound so good playing them that it hardly matters. (Thompson does score a classic opening line on the Wall Street piss-take “The Money Shuffle,” when he smarmily intones “I love kittens and little babies, can’t you see that’s the guy I am?”) With most songs hovering around the five- or six-minute mark, Dream Attic provides ample room for Thompson to stretch out, which he does on “Crimescene,” turning a dour reflection on the aging process into an extended guitar workout that sends six-string shrapnel in every direction. As is Thompson’s custom, Dream Attic leaves listeners wanting an encore.


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