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It Don't Come Easy, But It Don't Get No Better
Shoot Out the Lights
Richard & Linda Thompson
This is a dark, brooding and, above all, wonderfully, brilliantly difficult album.

Richard Thompson's songs are often scarifying; but even at their most dark and doom-laden, there's something purifying and uplifting about them as well.

Add his incredible guitar skills -- when he plays live acoustic, one would not be surprised to find that he had two extra hands hidden away somewhere -- add in his own harrowed/harrowing vocals and Linda's beautiful floating voice and you have one hell of an album.

But, as i said, it's a difficult album -- i owned this album for almost a year before i stopped listening to it and started hearing it.

"Did She Jump?" is terrifying.

"Walking on a Wire" is full of the pain of knowing that your relationship is going bad, knowing that there's nothing you can do about it... and still hoping, dreaming futilely otherwise.

"Don't Renege on Our Love" rings with the knowledge that no matter how much you plead, he/she is still going to let it all go.

And "Wall of Death" -- while many see it as a song of hope and affirmation, of living life to the fullest -- comes across, in my hearing, as almost a case-study in depression. (As a clinical depressive myself.) But it's a song about hanging on and surviving that depression.

All sounds pretty much like an album you'd go a long way to avoid, doesn't it? But it is, somehow, overall a defiance of that black fog, an affirmation of life, a celebration of hope against hope and fiercely loving even when love may be doomed...

If you're ready to step beyond simple boy/girl, moon/June/croon stuff and pop treacle; if you want some vitamins and some roughage in your musical diet, well, then...

This Is The Stuff.

Interesting trivia: The portrait of Linda that hangs on the wall on the cover of this album appears to be the same one used for the cover of her retrospective album, Dreams Fly Away.