[Verve Forecast]

Teddy Thompson thanks someone named “Bella” in the liner notes for his new release—but if she is indeed the record’s inspiration, whoever she may be, it sounds like she’s been causing him endless grief. Bella is fixed on the down side of love: the difficulty of finding it, the ease of losing it and the heartbreak it leaves in its wake, accompanied by regret and unblinking self-recrimination. Thompson marries those sentiments to classic pop sounds that are muscular and pounding one moment, lush and soaring the next (thanks in no small part to the liberal use of strings and the gorgeous arrangements provided by producer David Kahne), and he brings them to aching life with the piercing emotive force of his voice. Whatever its source, Thompson has tapped all that pain to make something beautiful—which means that this record is perfectly titled anyway. –SM

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