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posted: 10/17/2013 6:00 AM

Linda Thompson's brand of gloom sounds lovely

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  • Linda Thompson, "Won't Be Long Now"

      Linda Thompson, "Won't Be Long Now"

Associated Press

Linda Thompson, "Won't Be Long Now" (Pettifer Sounds)

Linda Thompson briefly plays the role of proud parent on her new album, happily slipping into the background while her children sing Anna McGarrigle's "As Fast As My Feet."

It's a rousing rendition and a rare moment of peppy pop on "Won't Be Long Now." With Thompson front and center, doom and gloom dominates the rest of the record -- no surprise to longtime fans of Thompson and her ex-husband, Richard.

She sings of war, fear, domestic abuse, loneliness and death, and like the gray sky on the cover, there's a bleak beauty to the music. Thompson's bracing, unvarnished alto remains a wonder despite her history of career-curtailing voice trouble. She chooses her material wisely, mixing traditional British and Irish folk with songs she wrote that have the same timeless feel.

The family provides plenty of help. Daughter Kami takes the lead on "As Fast As My Feet," and son Teddy contributes as a composer on four songs, including the wry title cut. Even Richard lends a hand, with his acoustic guitar the only backing instrument on the lovely opener "Love's for Babies and Fools." It sounds like something they might have performed together 40 years ago -- again, timeless.

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