A follow-up to Dreams Fly Away, Give Me a Sad Song is a compilation of rarities and previously unreleased material spanning the years 1970-1986. As its title suggests, it is a melting pot of grievous tales whose poignancies are revealed by Thompson's ever-emotive vocals. Of particular note is a chilling performance of Leonard Cohen's "Story of Isaac," taken from a pre-Richard 1970 session with Martin Carthy on guitar. Five tracks are taken from this set of demos for Tangent records and also include David Ackles' mournful "Down River" and a sparse version of Lennon/McCartney's "Get Back." Ironically, some of the album's best tracks are mid-'80s collaborations between Thompson and Betsy Cook, when Thompson's career had fallen into relative obscurity. As is typical of the period, too-glossy production values tend to mar the songs' elegance and simplicity. The album finishes with a sublime rendition of John Prine's "Aimless Love."
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AllMusic Review by Travis Drageset