FOLK rock evergreen Richard Thompson plays the Grand Opera House in York on Monday night.

"Our music is almost opera, isn't it," says a typically deadpan Thompson, who is on tour after releasing his latest album, 13 Rivers, last month on Proper Records.

The 13-song set is Thompson's first self-produced record in more than a decade and was recorded 100 per cent old-tech analogue in only ten days with his regular touring accompanists, Michael Jerome, on drums and percussion, Taras Prodaniuk, on bass, and Bobby Eichorn, on guitar, at the Boulevard Recording Studio, the Los Angeles studio once owned by Liberace and his manager.

Reviews have been calling it his best work in ages, Spencer Taylor in The Press judging this "brilliantly spare, loud and intermittently dark collection of songs his most complete and confident album in years".

Thompson, who turns 70 next April, is more circumspect. "I never really know; I'm always too close to it to be able to judge," says the one-time Fairport Convention member. "If you ask me in two years, I could give a better answer, but I think it's a strong album, I like the songs, and they fit in very well with my past work."

Explaining the title of his emotionally direct album, Thompson says: "There are 13 songs on the record, and each one is like a river. Some flow faster than others. Some follow a slow and winding current. They all culminate on this one body of work.

"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."

Despite being fashioned in "a dark time", 13 Rivers is an uptempo record. "There are only two songs on there that are slow; the album has a momentum to it," says Thompson.

York Press:

"I've always been suspicious of bright, shiny, new studios," says Richard Thompson

The "river" imagery only came to him "long after the recording sessions had finished", but "if you dig too deep into a title you'll end up empty handed". "I like the sound of the word, 'river'....and there's also a very facetious illustration I've done of the 13 rivers running into a large lake. It's all very pretentious, as you would expect!" he says, self-deprecation at play by now.

Born in Notting Hill, Thompson has lived in California for more than three decades and chose to record 13 Rivers at the legendary Boulevard Recording Studio in LA. "It's been very neglected for a long time and was closed for decades, but a lot of people have worked there because it's a good room, and it re-opened in the last five or six years. The decor has never been fixed [from the days when the flamboyant pianist Liberace co-owned it] and I like the sound and the old analogue equipment there – I've always been suspicious of bright, shiny, new studios," says Thompson.

Why does he love analogue recordings? "The sound is more realistic to me. You get a warmer sound," says Thompson. "This is technology that started in Germany in the 1940s and was widely used in the Fifties, and I'm not sure we have gone beyond it in terms of sound quality."

As for the timeless art of songwriting, Thompson says, "I really don't understand how the creative process works. Sometimes you write songs without knowing what they're about, like trying to write about what your life is about, but they come out differently, so sometimes they occupy an alternative world. They reflect your circumstances but also this other world."

Or, to put it another way: "I suppose it's 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," says Thompson, who "sequenced the weird stuff at the front of the record, and the tracks to grind your soul into submission at the back".

While the creative process may baffle him, Thompson says: "Everyone then has their own interpretation of a song, but if you prescribe what creativity is, you might over-analyse it, looking for a subconscious thread."

Thompson responds to the world around him. "You could compose in a vacuum, but you'd be hungry," he says. "Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted...but it's important for balance that you use humour. It's a way to soften up your listeners. I love switching between dark and light because it unsettles the audience and they don't know what to expect next. Then you can shove the knife in deep before they've even noticed."

Experiencing the world of Trump close up, after living for so long in America, Thompson suggests the President is "almost beyond satire". "You'd have to write a new verse every day! He's impossible to satirise," he says. "We're all in the dark about what happens next, but it's 'look out,world'!"

Richard Thompson plays Grand Opera House, York, on October 22 and Hull City Hall on October 23; his support act will be Joan Shelley. Box office:; York, 0844 871 302 or; Hull, 01482 300306 or