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Teddy Thompson/Mercury Lounge, New York/Feb. 22, 2006

Teddy Thompson.jpg

The life of a famous musician’s kid must be bittersweet. When said parent is successful, it often equals money, little responsibility and media attention based solely on who your father or mother is (see Nicole Richie).

But when your goals are to follow in your parent’s footsteps, all of a sudden the expectations start to rise and the criticism can be harsh. Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson, set out to attract some attention of his own during a recent show at New York’s Mercury Lounge to promote his second album, Separate Ways (Verve Forecast).

Thompson and band opened the show with “Shine So Bright” and “I Should Get Up,” just as his new album does. “Shine So Bright” began with a soft synth sample that maintains throughout the song and really accentuates the lyrics, which are a slightly sarcastic look at stardom. “I Should Get Up” was a little more upbeat but not a rocker by any stretch; the mid-tempo number showed off

Thompson’s similarities to his father’s style of music by featuring some subtle but distinct guitar work that never got too showy.

Thompson had a few instances where the strength of his voice was at the forefront. “Altered Sates” was one such song, and he seemed to channel Jackson Browne, holding notes longer to highlight the verses. His true highlight came in the middle of the set when he strayed from his current album and performed “Turning the Gun on Myself” from the 2004 EP Blunderbuss. The beauty of the song comes in the delivery — almost a lullaby, with Thompson’s voice in a hushed tone, comforting the audience while blurring the harsh words (“The Upper West Side/Is supposed to be quiet/It’s supposed to be wealthy and dull/So how to explain/This thundering pain/That’s pushing its way through my skull”).

As the near hour-long set drew to a close, Thompson continued to weave from song to song without the need to take it up a notch. One song that deserves a better arrangement is “Everybody Move It.” The words suggest that everyone hit the dance floor and shake what they got, but despite having a nice melody, the song would barely get feet shuffling.

After leaving the stage, Thompson returned alone for the appropriately titled “Sorry to See Me Go.” This soft tune silenced the crowd and kept everyone hanging on every word, proving that Thompson has a real command of the stage and the crowd.

Judging from this show, maybe this marks the arrival of a new folk/pop star to appreciate.

— By Mike Madden

Teddy Thompson will perform March 17 at Eternal in Austin, Texas, as part of this year’s SXSW music festival/conference.