Keith Thompson reflects on Smoke and Mirrors

Keith Thompson reflects on Smoke and Mirrors

Keith Thompson reflects on Smoke and Mirrors a very good blues guitar album that, whilst it doesn’t break new ground, it is still original and any blues tropes are used intelligently and a new sheen applied. Highly recommended, especially for guitar lovers that appreciate sensitivity over flashy.

Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen – a very good blues guitar album that, whilst it doesn’t break new ground, it is still original and any blues tropes are used intelligently and a new sheen applied. Highly recommended, especially for guitar lovers that appreciate sensitivity over flashy.

Up to his, I think, eighteenth album, Keith Thompson, is prolific to say the least…this latest opus came out in April and is called Smoke And Mirrors.

Keith first started playing guitar aged 5 and, growing up listening the bands of the British blues boom of the 60s, they inevitably influenced his playing. By the age of14 he was working the pubs and clubs playing mostly covers of these great artists. In 1978 he and guitarist Mick (Wurzel) Burston (later of Motorhead) formed a band called Bunter and then he joined the NWOBHM band, Lyadrive, although the band split before recording and their eventual release in ’97 didn’t feature Keith.

He then moved onto a very successful career doing sessions and composing for other artists…including the recent AA ‘theme’ called Read To Recovery! His own extensive back catalogue is worth a visit with some very strong releases available. It is this latest one that I have been listening to and, due to the pandemic, he recorded a very solo album where he plays guitars, bass, keyboards, drums (real and programmed) and even arranged the string orchestration.

Opener Easy Money provides the album title as the lyrics address a modern malaise…wrapped in quality blues guitar with a Gary Moore feel courtesy of the sustain and runs that he was so good at. Keith is good at them too and delivers excellent, well-paced solos with space contributing to the lyrical playing. Moment Of Choice has the orchestration as we get a slow bluesy rock song with vocal harmonies that, if it is all Keith is rather impressive. It also has a superb guitar solo that has flash but isn’t widdly. Back to the blues of the 60s with Anybody’s Guess bringing them up to date and, with the intro borrowing some Gary phrases, it follows familiar patterns with enough newness to be more than worthy. More excellent guitar backing and soloing make it easy to absorb this song. Sandcastles Of Lies starts with a lovely high bass line behind the piano that brings 70 rock/pop to mind…another intelligent and clever guitar solo. Falling is Petty rock with the wah-wah guitar solo saving it from cliche. Foolish Pride has a Santana feel as the rhythms and tone have that softness that he brought to his rock output. The guitar phrasing behind the lyrics and the solo again ensure this is an entertaining listen. The next track is different: Softer Frame of Mind has a full roster of musicians…it has a country picked guitar riff with some clever violin interjections and it is the violin that takes the solo with a melody that made me think of the theme to Hitchhikers Guide, but fits in with the country/Celtic flavours nicely. The Ride is basic (in a good way) blues. A ‘simple’ rhythm from bass, drums and keys leave room for the vocals with the guitar contributing sparsely until a cleverly structured and paced solo pulls it all together. Chasing the Wind is over ten minutes of bluesy ballad that is littered with superb guitar phrasing with more hints of Gary but, with the playing of this standard that is a compliment. Keith’s use of sustain, bends and volume control is enviable. The final track, What I Know Now, reminds me of some Micky Moody’s work on I Eat ‘Em For Breakfast…although the solo is not slide, just some excellent runs and bends that lift this closer to new heights.

This is a very good blues guitar album that, whilst it doesn’t break new ground, it is still original and any blues tropes are used intelligently and a new sheen applied. Highly recommended, especially for guitar lovers that appreciate sensitivity over flashy.

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Keith Thompson reflects on Smoke and Mirrors

Track listing (source album):
Love Me Tonight (Hard Road)
You Gotta Change (Black Rain)
When the Sun Goes Down (Black Rain)
Shelter from the Storm (Hard Road)
A Father’s Son (Hard Road)
Unfinished Business (Unfinished Business)
Somewhere Down the Line (Hard Road)
Sweet Lorraine (Black Rain)
Drowning in My Tears (Unfinished Business) Promised the Earth (Black Rain)
Remember (New instrumental track)


Musicians:
Keith Thompson: everything
Except on Softer Frame of Mind where Roy Adams on drums, Neil Simpson on bass and Nick Gibbs on violin appear.

Keith is performing solo and with his band in June and August at major UK festivals.

Connect with Keith Thompson across SOCIAL MEDIA
Official Website
Facebook
YouTube

(iTunes moved me on to my favourite tribute album..Twang! This is packed with genius guitarists doing incredible covers of The Shadows. Blackmore, May and Iommi are on there and are brilliant. However, as iTunes is alphabetically challenged, it was the Keith Urban (a mainly country artist from Australia and married to Nicole Kidman) version of Dance On that I thoroughly enjoyed…faithful but different.)

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