11 pop jewels from Teddy Thompson


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Teddy Thompson, "Bella" (Verve Forecast)

Judging from "Bella," Teddy Thompson's unlucky at love, even when he tries courting through his compositions.

"I know you're hoping to move on, but now I've written you this song," he sings on "Take Me Back Again."

That approach should work, because "Bella" is irresistible. Thompson has written 11 pop jewels that sparkle thanks to fetching melodies, inventive arrangements and his versatile vocals.

Thompson sings mostly about the resilience and persistence required in the pursuit of love, and he chronicles a series of setbacks with wit while exploring a variety of musical settings. They include the baroque ballad "Home," the Roy Orbison-style drama "Take Me Back Again," a couple of catchy rockers and "Tell Me What You Want," a twangy duet with Jenni Muldaur.

There are cameo contributions from the world's greatest guitarist, Thompson's dad, Richard, and much of the material benefits from cinematic string arrangements by producer David Kahne. Love's not always pretty, but these songs are.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: On the beautiful breakup ballad "Take Care of Yourself," Kahne's strings sound swell when they swell. And Thompson intensifies the melancholy mood with an octave leap to sing the final verse. Don't try it at home.