Big Sun Falling In The River has a relationship ending, as does the restrained Stumble On,  and that restraint is a bit of light and shade before Sidney Wells delivers a contemporary murder ballad and a stinging guitar solo that’s up there with Thompson’s very best before a swirling play-out. After that little extravaganza a change of pace seems almost obligatory, and it comes as a tribute to departed friends in A Brother Slips Away. 

While it doesn’t isn’t strong on detail you’d tend to assume the Davy could well be guitarist Davy Graham and Bert Jansch as the unnamed figure with whom the narrator played 'Come All Ye Tramps and Hawkers'/And the White Cockade. The Juliet is a bit trickier, though you’d be tempted to line up Sandy Denny as a prime candidate.

By contrast Bad Again rocks along nicely and while If Love Whispers Your Name is back in the realm of awareness that regretfully comes too late (serious stuff, that) there’s a guitar solo that kicks in around 3:40 that underlines just how good a player Thompson is. It’s one of those that starts quietly, builds to a climax over around three minutes and then drops back to finish off the set s a swell of crowd noise rises.

Dream Attic comes across as a well-structured set of songs that seem to have worked as a collective entity regardless of the fact that it was all-new material performed in a live setting before an audience who haven’t had the privilege of hearing the material before. In the past we’ve tended to see a new studio album followed by the same material recorded in a live setting with a few extras thrown in, which serves to demonstrate the way the songs evolve through performance. Reversing the sequence (doing the new material live first) might seem like a brave move, but given Thompson’s opinion that it's only when musicians play in front of an audience that something interesting happens one is inclined to look forward to subsequent live recordings to see what further evolution takes place.

© Ian Hughes 2012