The third and best of Richard Thompson's side releases to date, Celtschmerz is a terrific 16-song sampling of his 1998 solo acoustic tour of the U.K. Like the first two releases, the album was sold primarily by mail-order and at shows, in hopes of discouraging fans from turning to bootlegs for a concert tour souvenir. The record serves as a good representation of Thompson's solo shows, which can frequently be as electrifying as his sets with a full band -- showcasing his stunning guitar playing as well as the breadth of his writing in a stripped-down setting. A surprise treat is the addition of Richard's son Teddy Thompson, who opened the shows. Teddy, whose clear, rich voice seems to owe more to his mother Linda Thompson than to his father, trades verses on his parents' classic "A Heart Needs a Home" and a beautiful rendition of Tim Finn and Richard Thompson's "Persuasion." Father and son also team up -- with Teddy on guitar and backing vocals -- on four more tracks, including a lively take on the Left Banke's "She May Call You Up Tonight" (a song that turned up from time to time in Richard & Linda's earliest live shows). Other highlights include the aching "Why Must I Plead," the Celtic rock of "When the Spell Is Broken," a searing "Turning of the Tide," and Richard and Teddy's duet on Shoot Out the Lights' joyfully dark "Wall of Death."
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AllMusic Review by Brett Hartenbach