Richard Thompson and Eliza Gilkyson are proof of just how little justice exists in this messed-up world. Despite droves of critical praise, the two accomplished singer/songwriter/musicians barely register a commercial blip, each reduced to primarily self-releasing albums and touring as solo acoustic acts to cut expenses. Yet despite these sad business realties, Thompson and Gilkyson soldier on to create some of the most daring, provocative art on the indie folk-rock music scene.
A founding member of the British folk-rock band Fairport Convention, the beret-topped Thompson is renowned for his brilliant fret work, both on electric and acoustic guitars. His style is supple and smooth, yet packed with an emotional undercurrent. Equally impressive is his dark wit, gallows humor, and naked honesty—the kind in which love-gone-bad gets very personal, particularly in brutal songs like "Razor Dance," "Tear-Stained Letter," "Walking on a Wire," and "Should I Betray?" His vast canon is so well-respected by his peers that two Thompson tribute albums have been released: 1993's The World is a Wonderful Place and 1994's Beat the Retreat.
While Thompson relishes in dissecting matters of the heart, the Austin-based Gilkyson has recently dug her heels into socio-political topics, in addition to those of faith, family, and redemption. The combative tone of her 2004 release, the Grammy-nominated Land of Milk and Honey, is set from the opening track, "Hiway 9," a rousing, if vague, reference to the Middle East, oil, and misspent tax dollars. Far more focused and less strident on last year's outstanding Paradise Hotel, she smartly uses poetry and vivid imagery to share her point of view. In her lament against George Bush in "Man of God," for instance, Gilkyson eloquently shows how one man's religious beliefs serve to shape our foreign and domestic agendas.
Richard Thompson, Eliza Gilkyson and Kerry Getz perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, Sun Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930; www.thecoachhouse.com. Sun., 7 p.m. $25. All ages.
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