Richard Thompson writes songs about obsessive love and messy relationships like no other. “Vincent Black Lightning 1952,” “Cold Kisses,” “Beeswing,” and practically every song on 1994’s Mirror Blue exemplifies this. Thompson’s female characters always eschew a sense of nonchalant, unpracticed sexiness, radiating the kind of attraction that drives his narrators mad. Sometimes, these songs are love songs; other times, they’re much more sinister. I remember listening to “Cold Kisses” in the car with my mom and the pointed way that she looked at me when Thompson sang that hushed opening line, “Here I am in your room going through your stuff/ Said you’d be gone five minutes, that’s time enough.” In that moment, she imparted some lasting advice: “Don’t ever date anyone like this, OK?” In over nearly 50 years of songwriting, Thompson has played the role of a star-crossed lover turned possessive boyfriend more effectively than most, exposing small nuances in each of his character studies. “All Buttoned Up” is a song about a girl who boasts the kind of chaste beauty worthy of a Jane Austen novel, “crossing her arms to hide all of her charms.” In short: She’s a virgin who won’t give it up. The single will be included on Thompson’s forthcoming Jeff Tweedy-produced album, Still, which is due out in June. Hear “All Buttoned Up” below, and catch up on prior single “Beatnik Walking” too.
Still is out 6/23 via Concord Music Group.