Well, if it’s not him, who is it? There’s a bit of Waylon in the propulsive beat and a dose of Joe Ely in the denseness of the lyrics. But in the end, it is Randy Thompson, no matter what the title of the record says.
With one foot in roots-rock and the other in contemporary country, Northern Virginia’s Thompson delivers a collection of originals that are sturdy, touching and memorable. Guitarist Garrick Alden, who also co-produced most of the disc, and Rick West lay down some fine lead guitar on songs that are accented with the occasional mandolin and piano. While the playing throughout is strong, there’s nothing too flashy to take away from the sincerity of the vocals or the emotion of the lyrics.
The title song, with a somber piano underscoring the tasteful midtempo strumming and earnest singing, is radio-ready for contemporary country stations, painting a picture of a flawed man taking the blame for the failed relationship. Likewise, “If Love Is What You Want” could also be a commercial single, with a vocal track that sounds a lot like Gordon Lightfoot in a country-folk band.
Thompson, who’s also a compelling performer in a live setting, seems poised to either forge a tidy career as a dependable singer-songwriter or fall into the voracious maw of Nashville. Here’s hoping he makes the right choices.