Straight outta West Texas, Marty Thompson has a penchant for eccentric songwriting and his sophomore solo record Romantic Stories is no exception. It was written when he was on vacation with his family in the Bavarian Alps. And since he was backpacking, Thompson couldn’t bring a guitar on his trip for songwriting, so he did the next best thing… he wrote the album on a ukulele. A pink ukulele that he bought for his daughter for only €9 (what a steal). The end result is a transformative piece of work that invites listeners to create their own “romantic stories.”
The album’s opening track “A Thud” is everything but. It’s a clean recording that evokes a certain style and tone that’s consistent throughout Romantic Stories. It’s followed by “Devil’s Bridge,” which is a good piece of storytelling and vivid imagery. “Face of God We Climb” has a wonderful sense of driving melodies and clever wordplay, while “In The Monk’s Garden” is catchy and sharp.
Romantic Stories moves into something that feels more considered with the song “Anymore” and also well-textured and well-layered with “Wünderweg.” Although the album hit high heights with strong songwriting, it also hits a speed bump and takes a turn to uncertainty with “Maxhütte Trail,” which doesn’t feel like it fits with the rest of the songs of the album.
However, Thompson re-gains that special feeling he created at the beginning with the song “White Piano,” which feels very confident and true. The title track also saves the missteps of the album, as it’s finished off with “Lamplight Over Prague,” which is a lovely ballad of longing and shyness.
Marty Thompson feels like an expert with Romantic Stories and it’s a very strong effort from the singer/songwriter. It’s striking and complex, as it conveys so much emotion in clever storytelling. It’s comparable to music from the likes of Neil Young & Crazy Horse or Grateful Dead, but with a signature style that feels solely unique and original.
Songs – B+
Technical – B-
Overall – B