Veteran folkie/singersongwriter gets rocked. Richard Thompson’s albums of late have tended to carry a slightly similar mood – melodic, sometimes melancholy, often witty – and with major highlights in short supply the listener waits for time to pass until the deck shuffles itself and the future classics emerge. But now Thompson has elected to shake things up again with his new album 13 Rivers.
It was recorded in just 10 days flat, entirely on tape, and is arguably the nearest to a rock record Thompson has ever made. That’s not to say it sounds like Black Sabbath, but there’s a deliberate vigour to the production and arrangements. Songs like opener The Storm Within have urgent rhythms and clattering drums in the manner of a Nick Cave record; others, like Trying, have deranged guitar breaks that sound like animals gnawing at things; and with titles like My Rock, My Rope and The Dog In You, there is a general amping-up of Thompson’s deepseated lyrical rage. There’s also plenty of melody, melancholy and wit here to ensure that everyone’s happy, or unhappy, or whatever suits the listener best. A very good album.