CD Review: Linda Thompson

Versatile Heart Rounder
Music •••• Sound ••••
A rare vocal disorder limits her concert appearances, but Thompson suffers nothing on her third solo album. Recorded over 3 years in Scotland and New York, Versatile Heart is a clean, simple production where the voice doesn't have to fight for the right to exist. Thompson has never sung for range or gymnastics anyhow, relying instead on gentle inflections, empathetic arrangements, and an ear for material. "Katy Cruel" spotlights her traditional folk heritage, and her cover of the Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan track "Day After Tomorrow" twists with a soldier's apprehension and sorrow. But it's her songwriting collaborations with son Teddy and her vocal duets with Antony, Martha Wainwright, and daughter Kamila that showcase her diverse range. "Do Your Best for Rock 'n Roll" shades toward rockabilly. "Give Me a Sad Song" mines traditional C&W. Yet both deliver outside the lines, employing the strengths of the genres without succumbing to the formulas.

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