Album of the Week, June 5: Little Windows by Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones

ThompsonJonesTwo great sounds that sound great together! After a decade of steady, strong releases, second-generation folk-pop singer Teddy Thompson slowed his output and focused on supporting his mother’s comeback and producing a family collaboration. Power pop songstress Kelly Jones heard Thompson on the radio in 2011, then ran into him around L.A. She thought they might sound good as a team, so they tried out classic George Jones on stage. The result was magical, and the pair began writing together. With the support of regular Jones collaborator Mike Viola and Nashville musician Bill DeMain, they assembled a burst of pure country-pop delight.

Album Little Windows
Act Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones
Label Cooking Vinyl Release Date April 1, 2016
Producer Mike Viola
U.S. Chart  n/c U.K. Chart  n/c
Tracks
  1. Never Knew You Loved Me Too
  2. Make A Wish On Me
  3. Better At Lying
  4. Wondering
  5. I Thought That We Said Goodbye
  6. Don’t Remind Me
  7. As You Were
  8. Only Fooling
  9. You Can’t Call Me Baby
  10. You Took My Future

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Thompson outlined the mission statement for the project.

We wanted to write an album of timeless songs with universal themes. Songs that could stand next to those of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant or Doc Pomus. Songs that can be sung alone at a piano or with a band or maybe even with an orchestra.

That will come as no surprise to fans of Thompson, who frequently cites the countrypolitan gems of the late 50s as his favorite music. Jones’ modern take on the Brill Building sound is a perfect match. Their muscial temperaments are nicely aligned as well: Thompson’s happiest songs have a wistful tone and Jones adds sparkle to her saddest moments. Their harmonies are tight and goreous in a way that usually only families can achieve. Recorded quickly, live in the studio, their warm and engaging colloaboration is magical.

Viola mans the boards for ten tracks, mostly written by Thompson, Jones, and DeMain. A crack band — Attraction Pete Thomas on drums, Davey Faraghar on bass, Daniel Clarke on piano and organ, and Stevie Elliot on electric guitar — support the sublime vocals, with acoustic guitar from Thompson.

Things open with a joyful vocal burst. Never Knew You Loved Me Too is a perfect love-as-surprise pop number. Make A Wish On Me blends a series of wishing metaphors with sparkling vocals and a wonderful organ line. It’s a standout of the disc, and this live version shows off the pair’s harmonies in fine style. With Better at Lying things get a bit darker. Thomas’ drumming is flawless as the singers ponder romance gone wrong. Wondering features Jones’ strongest lead with a great honky-tonk guitar on a do-we-feel-the-same gem. The pondering gets more serious on I Thought That We Said Goodbye. The romance is over, but somehow the couple can’t quite let go. The track is a smart, dark masterpiece.

Don’t Remind Me flows perfectly from there, keeping the sorroful groove running. A swaying rhythm section and lovely piano line anchor the wistful As You Were with the singers showcasing their full harmonic range. A buzzing bass provides the foundation for Only Fooling, a sauntering is-it-really-over song. You Can’t Call Me Baby is a nice kiss-off, a cheerful reminder that the one who leaves must “use my proper name.” The disc wraps up with the pensive You Took My Future, a sweet sad goodbye.

Clocking in at barely 28 minutes, Little Windows does what pop does best. It hooks you, delights you, and leaves you wanting more.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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