Monday, February 14, 2011

Album Review: Thompson Square

Enter another of the duos that are nipping at Sugarland's heels.  The duo Thompson Square is composed of husband and wife Kiefer and Shawna Thompson.  Last year they released their debut single "Let's Fight," which was enjoyable for its off-beat theme of a couple shaking up their stale romance with a good fight, but it tanked at #58 on the charts.  They recently scored their first Top 20 hit with the somewhat ho-hum ballad "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not." 

Without a doubt, the act's greatest asset is Shawna, whose beautiful voice sounds reminiscient of Pam Tillis and Deana Carter.  Her hushed performance of the song "Glass," combined with a well-exectued lyrical metaphor, make it one track that is definitely worth cherry-picking from the album.  Though "If It Takes All Night" does not boast the most distinct lyric, Shawna sells it with her sultry performance backed by some bluesy electric guitar licks.

The biggest problem here is that the album has unquestionably fallen victim to the all-too-common "louder is better" mentality.  The majority of the tracks fall flat thanks to the overly loud rocked-up Nashville production (the work of labelmate Jason Aldean's road band - Tully Kennedy, Kurt Allison, David Fanning, and Rich Redmond).  One notable example is the song "One of Those Days," in which the audacious arrangement nearly drowns out Shawna's sassy lead vocal as well as the fierce banjo work.  Thrashing guitars level out the set until each song sounds the same as the one before it, making it difficult to appreciate the songs for their own merits.  It's hard not to have a headache by the time the album is over.

There may be some potential hear, since Shawna in particular displays obvious talent.  But overall, Thompson Square's debut album is a hot mess.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)