RICHARD THOMPSON – 13 Rivers (Proper Records PRPCD150)

13 RiversFollowing three excursions into his back catalogue in a solo acoustic format, Richard Thompson is back doing the other thing he does best. Electric guitar in hand and backed by the other two members of his trio, Michael Jerome and Taras Prodaniuk, plus guitarist Bobby Eichorn he returns with 13 Rivers, a set of dark, intense songs sequenced, as Richard puts it, with the “weird stuff” at the beginning.

The first of the weird stuff is ‘The Storm Won’t Come’. As with most Richard Thompson songs it will take me a while to get to the bottom of this. Ostensibly, it is about the desire to clear away the rot of modern civilisation, but it also seems to be about the despair of someone looking at the mess we’ve made of things. Of course, I could be wrong on both counts. Jerome’s drums pound and Thompson’s guitar rides spikily over the verses – you can almost see the dark clouds gather. ‘The Rattle Within’ is again built on Jerome’s percussion and is a vehicle for one of Richard’s angrier solos.

‘Her Love Was Meant For Me’ features Eichorn’s guitar as a counterpoint and seems to hark back to the style of some of Richard’s earlier songs. ”Like a razor to a scarecrow, her love was meant for me” – what a line! ‘Bones Of Gilead’ starts with bass and choppy guitar and, one again with this song, I need more time with it. Does the mention of London Pride refer to the plant or the beer? The bluesy ‘The Dog In You’ may be the first of the tracks described by Richard as designed to “grind your soul into submission” and boasts another superb but restrained solo to play it out.

Richard works his band with great skill with Prodaniuk’s bass throbbing underneath the songs and the drums powering them forward.  Although 13 Rivers is stripped back to its rock basics the sound is full and Richard’s production is as varied as his lyrical ideas. The chiming guitar that introduces ‘My Rock, My Rope’ and all of ‘O Cinderella’ both stopped me in my tracks when I reached them.

Whether I count this as one of Richard’s greatest albums will take me a while to decide – it always does. I do know that I find it more and more absorbing as it goes on

Dai Jeffries

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‘Bones Of Gilead’:

Richard Thompson: new album in September

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson is set to return with 13 Rivers on September 14, via Proper Records. The thirteen-song set is the Grammy nominated artist’s first self-produced album in over a decade and was recorded 100% analogue in just ten days.  It was engineered by Clay Blair (The War On Drugs) and features Thompson’s regular accompanists Michael Jerome (drums, percussion), Taras Prodaniuk (bass), and Bobby Eichorn (guitar).

13 Rivers is a bare-bones, emotionally direct album that speaks from the heart with no filters.  “There are 13 songs on the record, and each one is like a river,” Thompson explains. “Some flow faster than others.  Some follow a slow and winding current. They all culminate on this one body of work.”

A high water mark in an overwhelmingly impressive career, 13 Rivers was recorded at the famed Boulevard Recording Studio in Los Angeles.  Previously known as The Production Workshop, which was owned by Liberace and his manager, the locale served as the site for seminal classics by Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Ringo Starr, and hosted the mixing sessions for Pink Floyd’s legendary The Wall.

Of the album, Thompson says, “The songs are a surprise in a good way.  They came to me as a surprise in a dark time. They reflected my emotions in an oblique manner that I’ll never truly understand.  It’s as if they’d been channelled from somewhere else. You find deeper meaning in the best records as time goes on. The reward comes later.”  He continues, “I don’t know how the creative process works. I suppose it is some kind of bizarre parallel existence to my own life. I often look at a finished song and wonder what the hell is going on inside me.  We sequenced the weird stuff at the front of the record, and the tracks to grind your soul into submission at the back.”

13 Rivers commences on the tribal percussion and guitar rustle of ‘The Storm Won’t Come’ as the artist bellows, “I’m looking for a storm to blow through town”. The energy mounts before climaxing on a lyrical electric lead rife with airy bends and succinct shredding from the guitar virtuoso. NPR Music has premiered ‘The Storm Won’t Come’ alongside an additional new album track, ‘Bones of Gilead’.

Richard Thompson’s musical influence cannot be overstated.  Having co-founded the ground-breaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 60s, he and his bandmates invented a distinctive strain of British folk rock.  He left the group by the age of 21, followed by a decade long musical partnership with his then-wife Linda, to over 30 years as a highly successful solo artist.  In 2011, Thompson received an OBE from the Queen. The Los Angeles Times called him the finest rock songwriter after Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Hendrix and Rolling Stone has named him one of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time.  He has received lifetime achievement awards for songwriting from the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, the Americana Music Association, and the prestigious Ivor Novello Award.  His song ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Greatest Songs Since 1923.”  A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s songs including Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Sleater-Kinney, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Jones, David Byrne, Don Henley, Los Lobos, and many more.  His massive body of work includes many Grammy nominated albums as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man.  Thompson’s genre defying mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar along with engaging energy and onstage wit continue to earn him new fans and a place as one of the most distinctive virtuosos and writers in folk rock history.

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Artist’s website: http://www.richardthompson-music.com/

‘The Storm Won’t Come’:

RICHARD THOMPSON – ELECTRIC

Declared by Rolling Stone as one of the Top 20 Guitarists Of All Time and considered one of the UK’s most outstanding songwriters, musician Richard Thompson returns with a brand new, guitar driven record titled ELECTRIC for Proper Records on Monday, February 11th.

After taking the bold step of recording his last album of new songs live, when it came to recording ELECTRIC, Thompson turned to Buddy Miller (Robert Plant’s Band Of Joy, Solomon Burke, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin) to produce, recording at Miller’s home studio in Nashville, TN. Miller who himself is renowned for his guitar skills recently told Rolling Stone: “I played along on the record, playing rhythm guitar for him, and I got a two-week guitar lesson while he camped out in my house.”  The record was recorded as an electric trio with Thompson, drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk, who both sing background vocals. Jerome and Prodaniuk formed part of the band which recorded and toured the UK Top Twenty album DREAM ATTIC, released in August 2010.

They make up the trio, with Thompson, on his forthcoming UK dates, his first extensive tour in two years.

Guests on ELECTRIC include the legendary Alison Krauss who joins Thompson on “The Snow Goose”, while English singer-songwriter Siobhan Maher Kennedy (formerly with River City People and now resident in Nashville) adds vocals on several tracks as well. Fiddle great Stuart Duncan also plays on the record; one of America’s leading bluegrass musicians he played on recent albums by Robert Plant/Alison Krauss and Elvis Costello and will be familiar in the UK from BBC4’s Transatlantic Sessions.

Richard Thompson himself commented that: “We did it ridiculously quickly. But it sounds great. It turned out surprisingly funky, sort of a new genre – folk-funk. It’s quite snappy, somewhere between Judy Collins and Bootsy Collins.”

ELECTRIC will be released as a Standard CD, Deluxe two–disc set and on 180 gram vinyl.

As a folking treat for you, we have a free stream of Good Things Happen To Bad People from the album below…

TRACK LISTING

1. Stony Ground

2. Salford Sunday

3. Sally B

4. Stuck on the Treadmill

5. My Enemy

6. Good Things Happen To Bad People

7. Where’s Home?

8. Another Small Thing In her Favour

9. Straight and Narrow

10. The Snow Goose

11. Saving The Good Stuff For You

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Recipient of a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, Mojo’s Les Paul Award and curator of the prestigious Meltdown Festival at the Southbank in 2010, Thompson was most recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting by the Americana Music Association.

ELECTRIC was recorded earlier this year, 2012 marking the fortieth anniversary of Richard Thompson’s debut solo album, HENRY THE HUMAN FLY. Thompson has now released some forty albums, played on countless other classic recordings, and written more than 400 songs, some of which have been covered by R.E.M., Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, The Futureheads, Bonnie Raitt, Dinosaur Jr., Linda Ronstadt, Los Lobos, and many more.

Rolling Stone has hailed him as “a perennial dark horse contender for the title of greatest living rock guitarist.” The Independent recently described him as “probably the best guitarist this country has produced, an utterly sui generis talent…”

Thompson says of his fellow trio members: “Michael Jerome has been with me for about 12 years. He’s actually from Texas; he is a great musician, able to respond to anything that’s put in front of him.  Taras Prodaniuk worked a lot with Dwight Yoakam, and more recently with Lucinda Williams. His roots may be in country music, but he’s another extremely gifted and versatile musician.”