Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Versatile Heart

With help from Rufus Wainwright and her son Teddy, the singer has a keeper

Richard and Linda Thompson's breakup had dire musical consequences. Solo, the bravura guitarist never matched the grace or depth of his duo work, and even worse, "hysterical dysphonia" prevented Linda from singing for years on end. The few records she did manage, even 2002's purported comeback, Fashionably Late, settled for bland folk-rock lyricism. Here she's finally acrid again--helped by Steven Bernstein's horn arrangement on the memorable title tune, Rufus Wainwright's jaundiced eye on the specially composed "Beauty," protofeminist wisdom on the traditional "Katy Cruel." Thompson puts more oomph into the sardonic resignation of "Give Me a Sad Song," co-written by her old pal Betsy Cook, than the sarcastic resilience of "Do Your Best for Rock & Roll," co-written like most of this material by Linda and Richard's prodigiously talented son Teddy. But she was always a slow-one specialist, and it's a relief to hear she's no longer quite so calm about it.

Rolling Stone, Sept. 6, 2007