Spin - p.964 stars out of 5
-- "[T]he main attraction remains his bristling, zigzag guitar licks, which still astound nearly 40 years on."
Entertainment Weekly - p.69
"[He] consistently imbues his compositions with lyrics and melodies that shimmer with humor and humanism..." -- Grade: A-
Uncut - p.1024 stars out of 5
-- "[H]e sounds more like a loner -- intense, precise, impervious to fashion -- than ever."
Down Beat - p.743 stars out of 5
-- "The album's strongest moments are, as usual for Thompson, about as good as rock music gets."
Dirty Linen - p.51
"The album builds to a climax with two amazing rousing songs....There are full novels lurking in the narratives Thompson spins in just a few minutes."
No Depression - p.95
"It's an unflinching, relentless performance through the barbed-wire guitar finale....As for the bittersweet fatalism of the breath-stopping 'Take Care The Road You Choose', it serves to remind that, for all the things Thompson does so well, nobody does this sort of balladry better."
Personnel: Richard Thompson (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, autoharp, hurdy-gurdy, mandolin, pennywhistle, accordion, harmonium, organ, hand claps); Alan V. Michaels, Joe Buck (violin); Sara Watkins (fiddle); Novi Ola (viola); Joe Sublett (tenor saxophone); Danny Thompson (acoustic bass); Taras Prodaniuk (electric bass); Michael Jerome (drums, percussion); Chris Kasych, Judith Owen, Simon Tassano (hand claps).
Audio Mixer: Simon Tassano.
Recording information: House Of Blues Studio, Encino, CA.
Photographer: Ron Slenzak.
Arriving in the wake of the folk-flavored, acoustic-based FRONT PARLOUR BALLADS, SWEET WARRIOR marks U.K. folk-rock hero Richard Thompson's valiant return to electric guitar fireworks. Shooting off the kind of rock-&-roll sparks that had been missing from his catalog since 1996's YOU? ME? US? Thompson reminds listeners of why he's remained one of the most revered guitar heroes of the post-Hendrix era.
SWEET WARRIOR is no self-indulgent riff-fest, though; it contains some of Thompson's most sharply written songs in years. Released amid the furor of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, "Dad's Gonna Kill Me" (the reference is a nickname for Baghdad) initially garnered the most attention, but it's in good company. The sinuous "Needle and Thread" harks back to '70s-vintage Thompson, and the rollicking "Bad Monkey" compares favorably with classic RT roof-raisers like "Valerie" or "Two Left Feet." Striking the perfect balance of biting fretwork and crafty lyricism, SWEET WARRIOR shows that 35 years into his solo career, the former Fairport Convention string wizard's trickbag is as vital as ever.