(The first part of this review can be read here)
The second section of the album (“Heroes in the Suburbs”) is the one that includes “Crawl Back (Under My Stone)”, “Uninhabited Man”, and “Walking The Long Miles Home”. These are an idiosyncratic reagge-ish number, a celtic-flavored composition and a song which is “a little bit country” respectively. I especially like “Crawl Back (Under My Stone)”, a number in which the character conveys as much self-esteem as it is necessary for him to achieve his aim – don’t be fooled, he is not as innocuous as he might seem. And “Walking The Long Miles Home” has catchy choruses on the strength of the rhyme scheme that is employed. The lyric is funny, too.
This part of the album also has “Dry My Tears And Move On”, a song not dissimilar to a soul ballad that might as well have the best middle eight of the whole record.
The final section of the disc goes by the name of “Street Cries and Stage Whispers”. It is heralded by the acoustic “Sights And Sounds Of London Town” (a narrative painting the disastrous fate of those who tried to lay a hand on a geese they were told laid golden eggs only to find it would lay them to waste instead), and the two remaining songs are the menacing “That’s All, Amen, Close The Door” and “Hope You Like The New Me”. The former is a valedictory note with Richard’s voice sounding really bitter, whereas the later is disturbingly engaging in its stripped delivery and acerbic lyrics.
On the whole, there is not a lot to dislike here. In that sense, it is a prototypical Richard Thompson disc – every song is germane to the concept that he wanted to transmit. I don’t think it lags behind “Rumour And Sigh” or “Mirror Blue” in any sense, actually. The one difference is that those albums had a slew of songs that were definitely more appealing to a broader public – hence, they become quasi-hits like “I Feel So Good”. This time around Richard offers an album that is cohesive the most when taken as a piece. However good some of these songs are, their force is diluted if you take them out of context. That is no indictment on the album, though. Not at all. It is just a comment that explains the reason why the previous offerings did slightly better in terms of arising general interest. “Mock Tudor” is more of an album to explore once you are familiar with the general lineaments of Richard’s songwriting. It is not the spot for discovering them, but rather a place where you can see them put to a representative use. The same can be said about “The Old Kit Bag” to a certain extent. This approach was to be finally reverted back to the “Rumour And Sigh/Mirror Blue” style of unconnected songs for “Sweet Warrior”. That is the place to go if you are looking for more songs in that vein – IE, songs that work separately. But if you want to catch Richard in full conceptual flight, this is perfect.