CHRIS THOMPSON – Toys & Dishes

Esoteric Antenna 2014

CHRIS THOMPSON - Toys & Dishes

CHRIS THOMPSON –
Toys & Dishes

Shining, rather than blinding, one of the finest pair of pipes in rock hits the soft spot hard.

To see Chris Thompson only as a vocalist of MANFRED MANN‘S EARTH BAND is a criminal understatement of the singer’s talents. Since the beginning of this millennium the songwriter, who co-penned “You’re The Voice” and was Sarah Brightman’s duet partner, has been experimenting with heavy metal, jazz and even rap, although on-stage the veteran mostly sticks to the time-tested oeuvre. But for all his penchant for such an adventure, one could always feel Chris’ desire to get back to his roots one day, and now the day has come, so while Thompson’s not a protagonist of the backbeat-blowing “Eddie Wants To Rock,” that’s what he does here, the album’s title reflecting the artist’s wish to combine harsh reality with playful detail.

The twain meet and clash in opener “Million Dollar Wonder Hit” in which sweet pop harmonies and acoustic strum cover the bitter truth behind the showbiz that sucks out a creator’s soul. The piece’s upbeat mood is infectious and shows the singer’s perseverance in his toil, yet the same inflections in “Sad Songs Wishes” are hopelessly romantic. Sure, Chris draws solace and happiness from affairs of the heart to make the strings-drenched lullaby of “Dream Away Little Girl” and the merry “Millie Christine” bubble with warm emotions, but “Hey You!” is filled with heavy, if streamlined, anger. Balancing that, “You’re The One I Love” hops, handclaps and harmonica in tow, on a country horse, whereas the anxious “Dark Side” with its insistent piano line finds Thompson in his classic ’70s mode – banishing his inner turmoil and keeping those he holds dear away from chaos.

And Thompson succeeds at it, as the shimmering “Talk To Me” swings with a gentle caress, while “We Run” offers a glorious dance, and the acoustic blues of the spirit-seeking closer “Woe Is Me” stresses the fact that this album is the artist’s personal triumph: a joy he so generously shares.

*****

June 14, 2014

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