Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones
"Don't Remind Me"
Okay; I myself would never have known about this album (Little Windows, 2016) if it hadn't been for songwriter Bill DeMain -- who co-wrote every track -- plugging the thing on Facebook. But knowing Bill's talent, I took a chance -- and wow, was I gobsmacked by this record. So I'm urging you to check it out; you won't be disappointed, In the fractured music biz of these dark dark days, a Facebook post is sometimes the only way you'll find out about these gems.
Teddy, as it happens, has musical DNA up the wazoo, being the son of the gifted British musicians Richard and Linda Thompson (erst of Fairport Convention, and on and on from there). On the other hand, Kelly is just a gal from Virginia with pipes to die for. Note: this isn't the Welsh Kelly Jones, the guy from Stereophonics. No disrespect to him, but I think if he were involved in this project it would be something entirely different.
From the outset, the purpose of this album was to riff on the 1950s "countrypolitan" style that snuck pop influences into Nashville C&W. Strings, lush legatos, movie-music emotions -- the whole nine yards. That's the sound that my girl Patsy Cline was moving toward before she died in that awful plane crash in 1963, and Ray Charles did his own part in bringing R&B into the same camp. ("Georgia"? "Cryin' Time"? There's got to be some reason why these are my favorite Ray Charles tracks.)
But the track this most reminds me of is "Since I Don't Have You," a doo-wop hit in 1958 for the Skyliners, which Guns and Roses also (bizarrely) covered in 1994. The version I'm most familiar with, though, is Ricky Nelson's, from his 1965 album Best Always. It's drop-dead lovely -- and you can't tell me that Teddy and Kelly aren't channeling that ripe emotion here.
Oh, yeah, it's a mood piece. He's thumbing through his memories, and coming up with mostly broken dreams. That shuffling tempo is drenched with regret and lassitude, and Teddy and Kelly's harmonies are plangent as hell, sliding in and out of crunching dissonance.
I adore how the chorus modulates into that winsome plea -- "Don't remind me." Stevie Elliot's electric guitar draws out the tremulous emotion, spinning the web of regret.
Oh, please don't rub salt in the wound. Or, if you must --