Personal, poetic, political. RJ Thompson's latest album very clearly holds a mirror up to society as arguably any artist should do.
There's a distinctive retro feel to his music with many of the tracks having the feel of Phil Collins, Dire Straits or Nik Kershaw. Thompson intertwines his social commentaries and human characters around jolly synth-pop melodies. It's not all upbeat. Like much of Thompson's work there's a darker undercurrent at play.
Girl and the Gunman may sound as if it's straight out of the mid-80s hit parade with its funky splash of electro but there's a further reaching meaning of the song: this track itself was inspired by a photo of an unarmed, peaceful protester and the contrasting police who came in anticipation of violence, armed to the hilt. Think About You is pretty simplistic in structure but is also sinister and sincere in equal measure in terms of content. Lie Close To Me may present itself as a romantic piece, but RJ defines it as an "apocalyptic love song" from a man to a woman beseeching her to fight against oppression for the sake of future generations.
Thompson's work could be described as musically dissonant. His music is bold and intelligent but he hides provocative lyrics behind earworm style grooves to disorientate the listener: What you hear and what the song is about are two very different things.
Such songwriting is rare these days, but RJ Thompson is part of a new breed of songwriter who, like the folk superstars of yesteryear, are not content to use creativity to make hit records, but rather use it as a commentary on our society in the hope of making this world a better place.
Groupie Rating 4/5