RICHARD Thompson may be heading for 70, but you wouldn’t know it from this brilliantly spare, loud and intermittently dark collection of songs – 13, as indicated.

Recorded in ten days using old-tech analogue equipment, and produced by Thompson himself, with Clay Blair from The War On Drugs in the engineer’s chair, this is his most complete and confident album in years.

Recording with his regular crew of percussionist Michael Jerome, bassist Taras Prodaniuk and guitarist Bobby Eichorn, Thompson leaps fearlessly into The Storm Won’t Come, a swirling tempest, its meaning pleasingly elusive. He ends by throwing out a blistering guitar line of twisting complexity.

The Rattle Within, Her Love Was Meant For Me, Bones Of Gilead, The Dog In You are what Thompson calls “the weird stuff”, while later songs show a softer side. Do All These Tears Belong To You stands as a sort of pivot between the two moods. My Rock, My Rope is a hymn to constancy, while O Cinderella is a joyous sprite and Shaking the Gates wraps everything up in gentle sigh.

While some Thompson albums need to be heard live to make full sense, 13 Rivers sounds like the guitarist is in the room with you, beret on his head, twirling out notes and singing like fury.

Review by Spencer Taylor

Richard Thompson plays Grand Opera House, York, on October 22. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at