6 October 2018
Richard Thompson - 13 Rivers
I've no idea why it's taken me so long to finally listen to a Richard Thompson album. There's no excuse really, I've read so many articles and seen a lot of interviews over the years, but never followed it up with purchase or streaming of an album. So, I think it's safe to safe that one is on me really. Richard Thompson is an artist that people speak of with revered tones and hushed voices, giving him the feeling of an Apostle or Prophet who is carrying the ark of the covenant in his rucksack. I think if you've decided to read this just for the artist, you'll probably already know his backstory. For the uneducated such as myself, a very quick overview.
Richard Thompson is a British folk musician who started his recording career as part of Fairport Convention in the 1960's. Over the course of the following five decades, he has received praise for his work with his first wife, Linda Thompson who he recorded six studio albums, his session musician work and his seventeen previous studio records. He's received many awards over the years, including an Ivor Novello and the Order of the British Empire. There is more information on his Wikipedia page here. 13 Rivers is his eighteenth solo studio record, it was released on New West Record in the USA & Proper Records in the UK.
After my first listen to this album, the first thing I started to think about the similarities between 13 Rivers and Johnny Cash's latter-day records. Not in comparison to the music on offer, but to the amount of experience on display on this record. It has a sense of urgency and passion that I've only found in later day Johnny Cash and on Blackstar by David Bowie. There's a creative streak on this record, one which is beautiful to behold. Recorded and self-produced in ten days with a few overdubs, 13 Rivers is essentially a live studio record.
Starting with "The Storm Won't Come", the album is built on tension from the beginning. It gives the album an atmospheric start that is continued throughout the record. Another highlight for me is "Trying" which contains a Celtic feeling to the music, whilst the words are all about trying to make everything right, but how somethings fall apart. It's a beautiful number that sends chills up my spine.
Over the thirteen tracks, Richard Thompson serenades you with hard rock, folk, gentle ballads, urgent pleas for help. Coming in at just under fifty-five minutes, but it feels a lot shorter than that to be honest. It demands nothing but utter engagement from the listener, this is a record that you cannot ignore and you wouldn't want to anyway. If (like myself), this is your first introduction to Richard Thompson, then you're in for a treat. Now, let's get to work on that back catalogue.
9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....
Top track - The Storm Won't Come
You can purchase 13 Rivers on Amazon here.
You can visit the Richard Thompson website here.
You can follow the activities of Richard Thompson on Facebook here.
You can stream 13 Rivers on Spotify here.
You can stream 13 Rivers on Deezer here.
You can stream 13 Rivers on Tidal here.
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