Proxy Cover

Linda Thompson – Proxy Music (StorySound Records)

Linda Thompson (nee Peters) is one of the grand dames of British folk, or folk-rock music, if you prefer. Best known for her collaborations with her then-husband, Richard, she may have only made a handful of albums since then, but that’s not to downplay her talent. Sadly because she has a rare vocal condition known as spasmodic dysphonia which affects a person’s ability to talk and sing.

Reportedly, she didn’t actually have a grand plan to make a album; she simply wanted to record some songs she had written wrote that she felt suited certain singers. However, once she had the title, Proxy Music, she felt she had to use it. And who could blame her? It’s a cunning pun, and with an album cover that deliberately recalls Roxy Music‘s 1972 self-titled debut, hopefully it will draw people in (even if that may be challenging being streamed from a small device).

This has been described as a tribute album, although in this case the songwriter is very much alive and these are new songs. The proxies are those singers she has assembled to sing her songs. This is quite often a family affair – not just in the fact that she brings in her daughter Kami Thompson and son Teddy Thompson. Other folk music dynasties are represented, too: Martha Wainwright and Rufus Wainwright (the children of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III) have a song each. Also on board are Eliza Carthy (daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson) and the Reid twins, better known as the Proclaimers.

While most of the songs that make up this album come under the heading of folk or folk-rock, perhaps the most obvious exception is the Rufus Wainwright-featuring ‘Darling This Will Never Do‘ which brings to mind the idea of Weimar Republic-era cabarets. Yet it still fits in well with the album, which has a number of other highlights on it.

If searching for for standout tracks, I might pick the plaintive ‘Mudlark‘ which features the Rails or ‘That’s The Way The Polka Goes‘ which stars Eliza Carthy and some gorgeous violin. I’m amused that John Grant sings ‘John Grant‘ which he makes his own, and has a countryish vibe to it. Then I play the album again and different ones jump out at me…

So yes, it’s a fine album. It hangs together well, and at the very least will introduce newcomers to her songwriting, and even to some of those singers (though you could be forgiven for wondering exactly where some people must have been not to have heard of most of them). I wouldn’t wish spasmodic dysphonia on anyone, least of all a singer, but I’m grateful that these acts have come forward to help her bring these songs to life. It’s a rather fine way to spend forty minutes, quite a number of times. I hope there will be more to come from Linda Thompson, however she chooses to share her gifts with the world.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.