Dale Thompson
Dale Thompson (Rugged Records)
Dale Thompson

By Robert Gruber

It's always mildly hilarious to me, whenever a local band gets press for so-

called "major-label attention," to know that Louisville is home for two of Christian music's biggest superstar acts: Larnelle Harris and Bride. Seldom do these artists get the ink that lesser-known acts around town get, despite the fact they sell thousands of records worldwide, collect major awards, and perform before sell-out crowds—in other cities.

Dale Thompson is lead singer for Bride. On his first solo outing, Thompson puts quite a distance between himself and Bride's trademark hard rock, favoring a more stripped-down, experimental blues approach. Though the band here features local guitar luminaries like Steve Ferguson and Kentucky HeadHunter Greg Martin, as well as other Bride-sters; this is Thompson's gig.

He claims it on the strength of his unique singing voice and his spirited tales of back-road inspiration, distinctively southern, like Flannery O'Connor with touches of Mickey Spillane. In "Wringing His Hands," Thompson yowls, "She had a sleazy look about her like she came out of a violin case / Like smeared lipstick on the rim of a coffee cup."

And "He claimed to be looking for the killer of Marilyn Monroe ... no one ever questioned Joe DiMaggio." On "Knob Creek Road" he sings, "They found his body tied /to the trunk of an old oak tree/his skin was still burning / from the pepper and antifreeze."

Thompson and company craft appropriate sounds to fit the moods and atmospheres of the words.

At times, the music hangs in space, moving like thick smoke in a dimly-lit bar. Other times, it's just straight-up blues, tinted with sax, accordion and trombone. On "I Could," Thompson, with Martin on greasy guitar, evoke images of Robert Johnson.

The production on this 12-song disc is superb, erasing the notion (in my mind anyway) that a good album can't be recorded in Louisville. This is a rich musical experience that should not be ignored.

Album reviews of local artists Cherub Scourge and Hula Hoop appear on page 20.