It’s pretty hard to talk about this record without talking about the title. Clearly, the title is intended as some kind of statement challenging the tendencies in media to characterize certain music as “black” music, because what’s here is, for the most part, not what would be associated with “black” music in 1998 – except “Don’t Look Down,” which is the closest thing to “slow jam” here.
What is here? In addition to a little soul and R&B, there’s mostly folk and rock – it’s more of what we would call a “singer songwriter” record, if he was white, or there wasn’t any soul.
Thompson is a pretty great songwriter, capably writing in a diverse range of styles. For me, the highlight is “My Mom,” an absolutely devastating song about his mother’s dementia or Alzheimer’s.
And Thompson is ably supported by a bunch of musicians who appear to be able to play any of the styles he wants to. (It could be a rotating cast, as far as I know.)
The result is a strong set of songs played well, with enough emotion and grit to be compelling even if the music isn’t that far out of the singer-songwriter tradition. And the title is a reminder we shouldn’t categorize things by skin colour. That’s lazy and dumb.
- Half A Man
- Don’t Look Down
- My Mom
- Safe And Sound
- A Cheap Excuse
- Hangover Five
- Hangover Nine
- Stupid Again
- It’s All Good
- Half A Man (Acoustic Version)