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Richard Thompson
Folk Pop

Like Britain's answer to Neil Young, Richard Thompson is a 50-something rocker whose songs and six-string attack remain as vital today as they were when he was a youth updating folk music with the fire of rock 'n' roll. After more than a decade on Capitol Records, Thompson emerges with the stripped-down, indie-released Old Kit Bag, a set of lean, emotionally rich songs that vibrate with instrumental prowess. Backed only by Danny Thompson on double bass and Michael Jerome on drums and percussion, with harmony vocalist Judith Owen on a few tracks, Thompson is in top form. His dulcimer and mandolin playing positively sing on the Celtic-flavored "One Door Opens," an examination of shattered love, while his trademark guitar work soars on "Jealous Words," on which he delivers some meaty solos. Thompson's songs, too, continue to benefit from his artistry: As always, he unravels affairs of the heart with an expert needle, as on the tuneful "She Said It Was Destiny" and the jazz-tinged meditation "I've Got No Right to Have It All," and here the practicing Muslim steps outside himself on the topical "Outside of the Inside," which views the Western world from the periphery. With a guitar sound as identifiable and evocative as that of contemporaries Mark Knopfler or Pete Townsend, Thompson brings soul, compassion, and grace to The Old Kit Bag, making it far more than a ragtag sack of songs -- these tunes are keepers. Lydia Vanderloo

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