Richard Thompson: 13 Rivers review – Baker’s dozen of British folk-rock brilliance
At 69, British folk-rock legend Richard Thompson still has a sharp electric dagger or two in hand to go with his often acid tongue and cankered worldview. 13 Rivers is 13 tracks that flow from fast and fiery to slow and reflective.
The tone is ominous from the get-go: The Storm Won’t Come rides over a rolling drum tattoo with Thompson’s voice broodingly waiting for change. The measured, incisive solo on the outro is the first of many.
The equally incendiary The Rattle Within ups the ante and also nails, in demotic language, a key concern of Thompson’s work: inner conflict. “Just when you think your horse is a runnin’, just when you think you’re fixin’ to win, there’s a wonderin’ deep inside you, who’s gonna save you from the rattle within?”
Another motif is his embrace of gloom, here captured in the haunting, naked admissions of My Rock, My Rope. Ably supported in a stripped-back production by bassist Taras Prodaniuk and drummer Michael Jerome, Thompson’s appetite for toxic memory remains, eg The Dog in You, as does his sense of fun, but the most mystifying song here, The Bones of Gilead, is also among the best. Fascinating as ever.