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Review: Bracing tenor helps Teddy Thompson do retro right


Review: Bracing tenor helps Teddy Thompson do retro right
This cover image released by Chalky Sounds shows "Heartbreaker Please" by Teddy Thompson. (Chalky Sounds via AP)

Teddy Thompson, “Heartbreaker Please” (Thirty Tigers)

Teddy Thompson's roots are showing, and that's nothing new.

The New York-based singer-songwriter is the son of British folk-rock royalty but grew up on Sam Cooke, Hank Williams and the Everly Brothers, and he often makes music suitable for a sock hop jukebox.

Such is the case with “Heartbreaker Please,” an album of 10 new songs that want to be oldies. There's even a tune titled “Record Player,” on which Thompson grouses about the quality of today's pop.

That debate aside, Thompson's retro sound sounds great. “Why Wait” and “It's Not Easy" are the kind of horn-driven fare that has gotten kids dancing since “American Bandstand,” and the waltz “Take Me Away” pairs Chris Carmichael's inventive string arrangement with a nifty melodic twist. The title track benefits from the subtle guitar work of Thompson patriarch Richard, who partnered with Teddy's mother, Linda, on some of the best records of the 1970's and is still making great music today.

Credit good genes for Teddy's glorious tenor, and here it's bracing but warm and never showy. On the ballad “Brand New,” he lingers softly on one sad note for four beautiful bars.

Much of the music was inspired by a breakup, but nothing gets too heavy, and the formidable Thompson family wit peeks through. “I'm a metaphor that's reaching,” he sings on “No Idea,” a great lyric in any era.

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