There's always been an innate English eccentricity in the music of singer/guitarist Richard Thompson. But his latest opus is perhaps his most oddly ambitious. A live DVD/double-CD set detailing a millennium's worth of popular song, it paints the survey in broad strokes, melding old folk melodies, carols, and madrigals with Cole Porter, Gilbert & Sullivan, and Nat King Cole, along with more recent popular entries like "Tempted," "Cry Me a River," and "Friday on My Mind." Thompson's inclusion of Britney Spears' all-too-telling "Oops!... I Did It Again," and Bowling for Soup's "1985" betrays the occasional sardonic view, but the arched performances, wry, whimsical asides, and dead-on attitude suggest a blend of academia and entertainment. Thompson's roots are thoroughly embedded in trad turf he was, after all, a principal player in Fairport Convention, England's prototypical folk/rock hybrid so it's not surprising he pulls off the archival material with such obvious aplomb. Still, it's Thompson's fanciful view of the genre-defying repertoire that gives this set its nod and wink. There's only scant accompaniment a bold bit of minimalism considering the overreach. "Trying to render an Arthur Sullivan orchestration with acoustic guitar and snare drum is pretty desperate stuff, but may, at a stretch be thought charming," he writes in the liner notes. Charming it is. Indeed, this 1000 Years is time well spent.
Get the Music Newsletter
Find out about upcoming concerts and special offers happening in the South Florida music scene.