Teddy Thompson Upfront And Down Low

It’s been quite the invasion of the Thompsons as of late. Folk rock legends Richard and Linda have just put out strong new discs, and now here’s son Teddy chiming in. His earlier albums have certainly shown glimpses of the songwriting talent of his parents but he changes course here with a record featuring just one original tune, the excellent "Down Low.” Elsewhere, Teddy takes on a well-chosen collection of such honky-tonk classics as Ernest Tubb’s "Walking The Floor Over You,” "I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” and "She Thinks I Still Care.” How an Anglo can sound so convincingly American is a mystery but the rich, resonant Thompson voice is a mellow delight. Reference points include Chris Isaak, a less twang-y Dwight Yoakam and Raul Malo (the Mavericks). An all-star supporting cast includes dad Richard, fellow ace guitarists Marc Ribot, Tony Scherr and ubiquitous Canadian pedal steel player Greg Leisz, and harmony vocalists Iris DeMent and Tift Merritt. The one discordant note is struck by the excessive use of strings on many tracks. On "She Thinks I Still Care,” the violin (rather than fiddle) accompaniment adds a formal, stilted feel that’s at odds with the honky-tonk, hurtin’ vibe of this song (and others). More effective is Rufus Wainwright’s string arrangement on a lovely version of Dolly Parton’s "My Blue Tears.” Upfront And Down Low is a pleasant and enjoyable disc that could have been stronger. (Verve/Universal)