Singer-songwriters used to be like buses and bills (you'd wait ages for one and then three would come along at the same time). Not so this current crop, which resembles nothing less than aeroplanes stacking up around Heathrow. Currently waiting for a landing slot inside your iPod/CD player is Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda, honorary member of the extended Wainwright family and all-round good egg. And with his sophomore album, Separate Ways, just begging for one of its better moments to be used in a high-profile advert or, better still, an episode of The OC, Thompson is more likely than most to achieve that coveted "crossover" without too much turbulence along the way.
In Dingwalls on Wednesday night, Thompson more than proved that he's got what it takes. Looking less the son of hippie/Muslim/ commune dwellers and more the product of Home Counties harmony, Thompson plays Americana-influenced soft rock with the help of a backing band who can pull off the harder-than-it-seems trick of hanging loose while keeping it tight at the same time. "This is another song off my spanking new album," Thompson tells us after the opening two numbers. "I can't believe you're English," heckles an incredulous member of the audience.
And though he's now based in New York, Thompson is indeed as English as the adjective he chooses to describe his record. Born in a "squat" and boarding schooled in Hampshire, he is likeable to the point of wanting to hate him. But chinks in his musical armour prove difficult to spot: a slightly ill-judged cover of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" apart, Thompson's set is so well paced and well performed that twisted minds, such as mine, should rightly feel guilty for wandering away from the action.
But wander mine does, and along its way (Oh look, that's Jenny Muldaur, daughter of Maria "Midnight at the Oasis" Muldaur singing harmony up there) it invents a game, which it calls "If Such-and-Such Was So-and-So". Round one goes: if singer-songwriters were celebrity chefs, who would be who? I'm just about to settle on David Gray being Delia, James Blunt being Gary Rhodes and Teddy being Jamie Oliver when (Oh bless, that's his dad playing lead guitar on that one) it's all over and I'm wishing I'd paid more attention and scribbled more notes.
But that's a Teddy Thompson gig for you. He looks good, he sounds great and he writes lovely songs that you'll want to sing while you're doing the washing up. If there's anything you don't like about him, then it's you who's got the problem, dude. Because round two of my little game goes: if Teddy Thompson were a Celebrity Big Brother contestant, which would he be? And the answer is undoubtedly Preston. Only with better music.
Teddy Thompson will play University of London Union on 27 April (020 7664 2000). His single, 'Everybody Move It' is released on 20 Feb (Verve Forecast Records)Reuse content