Teddy Thompson

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Teddy Thompson
Teddy Thompson 2-17-04 - Photo by Anthony Pepitone.jpg
Background information
Born (1976-02-19) 19 February 1976 (age 38)
Origin London, England
Genres Folk, alternative country, rock, singer-songwriter
Years active 2000–present
Labels Virgin, Verve Forecast
Associated acts Richard Thompson, Linda Thompson, Kamila Thompson, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Rosanne Cash, The Grey Race, Poundcake
Website teddythompson.com

Adam "Teddy" Thompson (born Abudharr Ibn Yaya Thompson 19 February 1976) is a British folk and rock musician. He is the son of folk-rock musicians Richard and Linda Thompson and brother of singer Kamila Thompson. He released his first album in 2000.

Biography[edit]

Teddy Thompson was born in 1976 in a London Sufi commune to folk-rock musicians Richard and Linda Thompson, both major musical figures in the English folk rock scene from the 1960s on. He is the brother of singer Kamila Thompson. When he was born, he was given the Muslim name 'Abudharr Ibn Yaya Thompson.' As a child, he changed his name to 'Adam,' and his mother added 'Teddy' as a middle name. When he was 13, he began to use 'Teddy' as his first name. He formed his own band at the age of 18. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue his music career,[1] which included work as a singer and guitar player in his father Richard's band during the 1990s. He appears on at least three Richard Thompson Band recordings from that time: You? Me? Us?, the live album Celtschmerz (1998) and Mock Tudor (1999), as well as singing a duet on the track "Persuasion", which appeared on Richard's best-of compilation Action Packed (1999). He can be seen performing in his father's band on a number of internet videos from as early as 1993, including an appearance on the BBC's Jools Holland show. He coaxed his mother out of retirement and co-produced her first album in 17 years, Fashionably Late.[1]

He currently resides in and operates out of New York City.

Recordings[edit]

Debut[edit]

In 2000 Thompson released his debut album, Teddy Thompson, which received much critical acclaim but little commercial success. Between the time of his debut album and follow-up, he released the moderately successful EP Blunderbuss and toured as part of Rosanne Cash's band. His song "Love Her for That" was featured in the 2002 film 40 Days and 40 Nights.

Separate Ways[edit]

In 2005, Thompson released his second full-length album, Separate Ways. It has a strong "second-generation" artist theme, featuring both Rufus and Martha Wainwright, who are close friends of Thompson. He has toured and recorded with both the Wainwrights, including Rufus' 2003 album Want One.[2] Teddy and Rufus recorded a version of "King of the Road" for the 2005 film, Brokeback Mountain, with Thompson also contributing a solo track: "I Don't Want to Say Goodbye". Separate Ways features Dave Mattacks, Tony Trischka and Garth Hudson of The Band and was produced by Brad Albetta, who also produced Martha Wainwright's much-lauded debut album.

Upfront & Down Low[edit]

Teddy's third album, Upfront & Down Low, was released on Verve Forecast in the United States on 17 July 2007, and in the UK and Europe later in 2007. The album contains covers of many of Teddy's favourite country songs, plus one of his own compositions, entitled "Down Low". It offers covers of country classics such as George Jones' "She Thinks I Still Care," Ernest Tubb's "Walking the Floor Over You", and Liz Anderson's "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers", made famous by Merle Haggard. Lesser-known songs include Felice and Boudleaux Bryant's "Change of Heart," Dolly Parton's bittersweet "My Blue Tears," Bob Luman's "Let's Think About Living", and the Elvis Presley "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone." Six tracks feature string arrangements by English arranger Robert Kirby, renowned for his work with Nick Drake.[3] "My Blue Tears" features strings arranged by Thompson cohort Rufus Wainwright. The only single taken off Upfront & Down Low was "Change of Heart".

A Piece of What You Need[edit]

Thompson's fourth studio album, A Piece of What You Need, was released via Verve/Forecast on 17 June 2008 and contains all original songs. It was produced by Marius de Vries, whom Teddy met while recording background vocals on Rufus Wainwright's Want records in 2002. He had been playing the opening track, "The Things I Do", for several years on tour and originally intended to put it on Separate Ways, but could not get the feel right in time for that album's release. The song "Turning the Gun on Myself" first appeared on the 2004 EP Blunderbuss.

The first single from A Piece of What You Need is "In My Arms". The music video for the song features a cameo appearance by Rufus Wainwright dressed as Elvis Presley. The song entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 107.[4] The album received rave reviews in the UK, and much critical acclaim elsewhere, with many stating that this album is Thompson's best work to date. A Piece of What You Need debuted at No. 10 after its first week in the UK Charts during August 2008.

Bella[edit]

Thompson's fifth studio album Bella was released on 7 February 2011 in Europe and 8 February 2011 in the United States. Bella is Thompson's fourth album released on the record label Verve Forecast. The album is produced by David Kahne, whose previous collaborations include Paul McCartney, Regina Spektor and The Strokes. Bella contains all original songs which Thompson started working on after returning from his last tour. Thompson crafted the songs for the album going to a Manhattan office every day homing in as a record deadline drew closer. The album single is called "'Looking for a Girl" and was released on 13 January 2011 on Verve Forecast.

Bella has received positive reviews in the UK and the US with critics praising Thompson for crafting another solid album as a follow-up to 2008's A Piece of What You Need. Critics also note that this is Thompson's most personal record to date which yet again shows off his talent as a vocalist and craftsman of both deeply personal and hummable pop tunes.[5][6]

Contributions[edit]

Teddy Thompson 6-17-06 - Photo by Anthony Pepitone.jpg
  • Teddy co-wrote the bulk of his mother Linda Thompson's comeback album, Fashionably Late (2002). He also contributed guitar and vocals on the album. The song All I See, written by Teddy and featuring Linda on vocals, first appeared on Teddy's 2000 self-titled debut.
  • Thompson contributes covers of Leonard Cohen's "Tonight Will Be Fine" and "The Future" to a CD soundtrack released by Verve Records in 2006, featuring select covers from 2005 tribute concerts to the singer-songwriter.
  • Teddy was featured in one of the episodes of Live from Abbey Road, along with Brian Wilson and Martha Wainwright, during September 2008. Teddy contributed two songs: "In My Arms" and "Don't Know What I Was Thinking", from A Piece of What You Need. Thompson and Martha Wainwright also performed the Beatles song "We Can Work It Out" together at the end of the airing episode. The episode aired on The Sundance Channel on 4 September in the US and on 13 September in the UK.
  • Thompson again co-wrote much of his mother's 2007 album, Versatile Heart.
  • Thompson is featured in a DVD with Keane, entitled Curate a Night For a War Child (released in September 2008), contributing two songs from Upfront & Down Low.
  • Teddy was featured in a documentary about Jason Crigler; a well-known guitarist and musician who is also a close friend of Thompson. The documentary is called Life. Support.Music and is about the amazing recovery Crigler made after suffering from a serious brain haemorrhage in 2004. The documentary also feature Jason's family and friends with appearances by Teddy and Norah Jones amongst others. Life. Support.Music aired on PBS 7 July 2009.

Performance[edit]

  • Thompson toured as part of Rosanne Cash's band in the early 2000s.
  • In January and February 2009, he toured the UK with The Grey Race as his opening act and backup band.
  • Teddy appeared as the opening act for Elton John, supporting him on a line of dates in June 2009, followed by some appearances at the Festival scene in the UK later in the summer.
  • He appears regularly at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York City with his rockabilly band Poundcake, a trio he completes with Ethan Eubanks and Jeff Hill.
  • In January 2011 he appeared, with David Ford and Ashley Cleveland, at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow.[7]
  • Throughout January and February 2011 Thompson toured the UK supporting his latest release Bella and with him on the road were his regular backing band with Ethan Eubanks on drums, Jeff Hill on bass, Daniel Mintseris on keyboards and featuring Jessie Nelson on fiddle and David Ford on keyboards and guitars on some of the songs.
  • Thompson and his band returns to the United States in April 2011 supporting rock band Old 97's on their American tour.

Tributes[edit]

Special appearances[edit]

Style and musical genre[edit]

Coming from a family of folk musicians, Thompson has naturally drawn influences from folk-music into his own musical sound. While still a teenager he was listening exclusively to American music such as Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly. Thompson also later stated that these artists are some of his main musical influences when he first started to write songs. Later when he grew up he began to listen more to contemporary pop music such as Crowded House, and his own musical style today is a mix of folk, country, rock and pop music. As he says himself:

". . country music was the music I was brought up on. It's the music that's closest to my heart and the music that speaks to me the most, and it's always been a big influence on my own songwriting. I was obsessed with country music when I was a kid, and it's definitely had a huge influence on the way I write songs. I was always attracted to songs that had a brilliant pun or a clever turn of phrase, but came from a dark, bitter place. As a writer, I've always gravitated towards that feeling.[9]

In a video interview he says:

"I think my favorite pop song ever is this Elvis song called '(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame' . . I don't know if it's the best song, but it's just the most perfect pop record I've ever heard. It's the most perfect arrangement, brilliant playing ... sounds phenomenal. As a little piece of pop history ... to create something that perfect, that simple, would be great."[10]

In addition to his tenor singing voice, Thompson plays both the acoustic and electric guitar, and occasionally the ukulele. He has a strong, versatile and expressive voice which he uses both in the higher and lower vocal range with ease, but he apparently prefers using his voice in the middle register while singing. He stated in an interview that his voice was "his only weapon so to speak" in the early years as a vocalist and musician playing in his father's backing band. It has been said that Thompson has inherited much of his singing voice from his mother.[citation needed] He has also been compared vocally to Chris Isaak and Justin Hayward.

On Thompson's 2011 release Bella many critics comment on the striking vocal resemblance to singer Roy Orbison on many of the songs, especially on "Take Me Back Again" and "Take Care of Yourself" which on the latter Thompson soars into a perfect falsetto at the end of the song evoking the late 1960s singer.

Musical themes[edit]

Thompson's songs are often characterised by their personal and observational style and common use of black humour, such as "Turning the Gun on Myself" and "The Things I Do". He is also known for his ability of writing both personal and wry lyrics with a very melodic style, with such songs like "What's This?!!" and "In My Arms". As a lyricist, he has often been compared to his father, but has developed his own unique writing style. He is also said to have a knack of catching the exact state of mind into his songs, like in "Everybody Move It" and "Slippery Slope".

Teddy has said that "Everybody Move It" was inspired and partly based on personal experience with going out to clubs as a teenager, often ending up in a corner watching everybody else having all the fun.

Recurring themes in Thompson's music are love, loss, the look at fame ("You Made It", "Shine So Bright"), popular culture ("A Piece of What You Need"), and regarding much of his earlier work, self-loathing.

While on his first two albums written songs only in a first-person perspective, Teddy has also explored writing songs in the third person, most notably in "Jonathan's Book".

Rufus Wainwright states on the DVD which accompanied the "Release the Stars" album that the song "Nobody's Off the Hook" is about his friendship with Thompson.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album Chart Positions Label
UK IRE US Heat US Country
2000 Teddy Thompson Virgin
2005 Separate Ways 192[11] Verve
Forecast
2007 Upfront & Down Low 19 49
2008 A Piece of What You Need 10[12] 63 19
2011 Bella 42 94 6 Decca / Verve
Forecast

EPs, etc.[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "Everybody Move It" (2005)
  • "In My Arms" (2008) – (UK #107)
  • "Christmas" (2008) – featuring special guests Linda, Richard, and Kamila Thompson[13]
  • "Looking for a Girl" (2011)

Guest appearances[edit]

Compilation/soundtrack contributions[edit]

Video[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "For Teddy Thompson, Music's a Family Affair" by David Dye, National Public Radio, 3 May 2006 (from WXPN).
  2. ^ musicomh.com
  3. ^ Teddy Thompson bio from Verve Music Group
  4. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart for the Week Ending 30 August 2008". ChartsPlus (Milton Keynes: IQ Ware Ltd) (366): 1–4. 
  5. ^ Three Star USA Today Review
  6. ^ New York Times Profile Album Release
  7. ^ Teddy Thompson with David Ford and Ashley Cleveland at celticconnections.com
  8. ^ pitchforkmedia.com
  9. ^ Teddy Thompson bio at Verve Music Group
  10. ^ video interview, 2006, Hellcar Industries
  11. ^ Zobbel (16 June 2007). "Chart Log UK". Zobbel. Retrieved 3 September 2008. 
  12. ^ "The Official UK Albums Chart for the week ending 6 September 2008". ChartsPlus (Milton Keynes: IQ Ware Ltd) (367): 5–8. 
  13. ^ "Exclusive Teddy Thompson and Family "Christmas" song available on iTunes!". Verve Music. 15 December 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2009. 

External links[edit]