Teddy Thompson and Thirty Tigers announce the release of new album Heartbreaker Please. Reckoning with the breakdown of love with a wistful levity, Heartbreaker Please finds the son of Linda and Richard Thompson perfectly himself, twenty years after moving to the U.S. to reinvent himself as an artist. “It was easier to leave it behind and go somewhere new to announce myself as a musician, rather than explain to all the people who’ve known you since you were a kid,” he says. “And you can actually [do that] in America, step off the plane, say ‘my name is whatever’.” On Heartbreaker Please, Teddy Thompson is at the top of his craft, serving up the medicine of resignation and with sweet, catchy satisfaction.
“Here’s the thing,” Teddy Thompson sings frankly on his new album, “you don’t love me anymore. I can tell you’ve got one foot out the door.” From its opening track Thompson’s new album Heartbreaker Please (out May 29 on Thirty Tigers) reckons with the breakdown of love with a wistful levity as satisfying as it is devastatingly honest. And while the album is drawn from the demise of a real-life relationship, as told from Thompson’s perspective, it might also be seen as a projection of his relationship with New York City, the place he has called home for the better part of two decades. A member of the British musical dynasty first helmed by his legendary parents, Linda and Richard Thompson, he left London for the States at 18, settling in New York five years later. “At the time I was just taking a long vacation that never ended,” he says. “I wanted to reinvent myself and it was easier to leave it behind and go somewhere new to announce myself as a musician, rather than explain to all the people who’ve known you since you were a kid. And you can actually reinvent yourself in America, step off the plane, say ‘my name is whatever’.” Twenty years later, Heartbreaker Please finds Teddy Thompson perfectly himself, a commanding artist at the top of his craft.
“I guess I sound like who I am,” Thompson says, “which was probably embossed on me by the 1950’s American sounds that were with me in my childhood.” From a young age, Sam Cooke, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, and the Everly Brothers made up the bulk of his listening, from which diverse listening habits later spun out. “As a teen I couldn’t talk to my friends about 50s music, so Crowded House was the first contemporary band I really found,” he says. “Today I’m rather catholic in my taste in music, paying attention to whatever I hear around me,” he says. “I listen to opera, country, 80’s stuff like A-Ha and the Proclaimers, always picking up bits of everything.” After releasing his self-titled debut in 2000, Thompson went on tour as part of Roseanne Cash’s band. Since then he’s released five albums, collaborated with good friends Martha and Rufus Wainwright, contributed to numerous tribute projects, and produced albums for Americana singer-songwriter Dori Freeman and his mother, Linda Thompson.
At the outset of Heartbreaker Please, Thompson’s journey through musical experience brought him once again back home to the songs of the 50’s. “I’m completely enamored with the three-minute pop song. Maybe it’s conditioning if you hear enough of it, but the brevity of those songs, I thought it seemed perfect to me,” says Thompson. “Those songs emerged at the beginning of a certain type of pop music, where the song itself was important and would live on. If it was great, people would cover it. So I am still drawn to that, trying to be succinct and witty, but also cut to the heart in a matter of two or three minutes. I’ll never write a song as good as Chuck Berry’s ‘Maybelline’ or something by the Everly Brothers, but that’s the touchstone for me.”
The songs on Heartbreaker Please are undergirded by references to someone else doing the heartbreaking. “I was dating an actress at the time and living a strange sort of existence. As an artist you can get used to being in the spotlight, but in this relationship I sort of became the +1 and I was skirting around doing my own thing.” The relationship ended as Thompson was finishing writing the songs that would become Heartbreaker Please. “I tend to write sad songs, slow songs – it’s what comes naturally,” says Thompson, “so it’s a natural fit with the subject matter, but here, even where the subject matter was kind of sad, I’d set it against a soul beat, give it sort of an uplifting feel.” The effect pays off dividends on Heartbreaker Please, where Thompson traffics in the secret that exemplifies the longstanding influence of pop culture figures like Prince, ABBA, and fellow Londoner Mary Poppins: the medicine is not the sugar, but you might as well take them together since there’s no moving on until you swallow the truth. “I feel like all these years here have made me a New Yorker, but twenty years in New York can weigh you down. There’s nowhere like it, but it can be exhausting.” Like the Everly Brothers did with ‘Bye Bye Love’, on Heartbreaker Please Teddy Thompson serves up the medicine of resignation with sweet satisfaction.
Artist’s website: www.teddythompson.net
‘Heartbreaker Please’ – official video:
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