Teddy Thompson Teddy Thompson

The new way to make an album is at home on your Mac. The old way is to fly to L.A., write some songs and hire a band to lay them down. Teddy Thompson - son of British folkies Linda and Richard Thompson - chose the latter route, to mixed success. Most of this debut has a highly polished, expensive-to-make feel that's not quite in keeping with his relative inexperience, and tends to strand him in wimpy, soft rock territory. Nonetheless, there are some wonderful moments on this album. At his best ("All I See"), Thompson knows just when to hold back with his warm tenor, achieving the perfect blend of subtlety and emotion over a deftly-arranged background of layered, reverbed guitar. At other times, he seems overpowered by an instinct to sound as much like Crowded House, as he can (a band that father Richard, who plays guitar on several tracks, used to tour with). Thompson's songwriting is the weakest link, tending as it does to stray down cliché lyrical paths. Guest appearances are made by fellow son-of-a-legend Rufus Wainwright on "It's so Easy" and Emmylou Harris. Her contribution, a hidden-track duet on a cover of Don Everly's "I wonder if I care as much," is sparse, delicate and the album's real highpoint. (Virgin)