116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The world of music has primarily been ruled by those 30 and under 30. A glance at the current Top 10 on the Billboard pop chart backs that up, as Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran and Lil’ Nas currently reside in the upper echelon. Adele is barely over 30.
However, senior singer-songwriters have been making some noise over recent years. Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Bob Dylan have been crafting some of the best work of their storied careers.
The same can be said for Richard Thompson. The veteran British bard made one of his finest albums, “Still,” in 2015, after turning 66.
The songs from “Still” are spare, autumnal and at times, hypnotic. Thompson, 72, followed with 2018’s terrific “13 Rivers,” filled with poignant, passionate, and at times, quirky songs.
“I still have something to say,” Thompson said. “But it’s not just me. A lot of songwriters my age are at the top of their game.”
It’s evident throughout “Still” and “13 Rivers” that Thompson still has the ability to write and record wonderful material. He’ll bring that artistry to the Englert Theatre in Iowa City on Nov. 11, 2021.
Producer Jeff Tweedy, who fronts Wilco when he's not behind the board, was wise enough to give Thompson some space for the intimate “Still.”
“He left the songs as they were for the most part,” Thompson said. “Some tweaks were made. Some rhythms were changed and some harmonies were added but we just tried to record it live.”
Thompson has been quietly consistent since his seminal 1972 album, “Morris On,” was released. He has few peers — Springsteen and the late Tom Petty — who have been as strong for such an unusually long period.
But unlike Petty and Springsteen, Thompson hasn’t enjoyed the commercial success those two icons have had during their long careers.
“I love music,” Thompson said. “I don’t care about anything that comes with it. Music is incredibly powerful. It can be so uplifting. To be able to have such a career is a great thing.”
Thompson is an underrated guitarist. The humble former leader of Fairport Convention lays down his axe work. When he speaks of coming of age in England, he talks about the brilliant play of Eric Clapton and Peter Green.
“After that, I decided I couldn’t play blues guitar,” Thompson said.
But Thompson is an outstanding guitarist and an ace songwriter. His solo work has met a very high standard.
Albums that are filled with tracks ranging from good to exceptional include 1988’s “Amnesia,” 1994’s “Mirror Blue,” 1999’s “Mock Tudor” and 2010’s “Dream Attic.”
Thompson has enjoyed being free of major labels, and left Capitol in 1999.
“I’ve particularly enjoyed this period since I get to make what I want to make,” he said. “The internet has made many things possible for artists like me. It also helps having a loyal fan base.
“You just don’t need the big record labels like you once did. It’s liberating,” he said. “It’s nice not having any interference. I can make the albums I want to make.”