1978's First Light marked Richard & Linda Thompson's first time in a recording studio after three years away from music, and it suggested they were still getting warmed up as performers; a year later, Sunnyvista found them in much stronger form and a significantly more upbeat frame of mind. Sunnyvista is the wittiest and most joyous album Richard & Linda made together; while several of Richard Thompson's trademark meditations on romance at it's least successful are on hand, "Why Do You Turn Your Back" manages to generate an unusually soulful groove, "Lonely Hearts" captures the melancholy country feel that First Light never quite caught, and "Traces of My Love" finds a winning warmth in its sadness. Richard Thompson's satirical eye gets an airing on the darkly witty title cut, and he displays his rarely aired politically conscious streak on the rabble-rousing "Borrowed Time" and "Justice in the Streets." Linda Thompson's vocals are in superb form on "Sisters," a lovely duet with Anna McGarrigle. And you'd have to go back to Hokey Pokey to hear the Thompsons having as much fun as they do on the rollicking "Saturday Rolling Around" and the wildly passionate "You're Going to Need Somebody." With a big band of Fairport Convention and Albion Band associates and top UK session players on board, and Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Gerry Rafferty, and Glenn Tilbrook contributing vocals, Sunnyvista boasts the stylistic eclecticism of the Thompsons' best work, with a healthy dose of added enthusiasm. Anyone who thinks Richard & Linda Thompson's records are always depressing have obviously never heard Sunnyvista; if it isn't quite as resonant as I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight and Pour Down Like Silver, it still boasts great songs, great singing, and you can play it at a party.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming