"Climaxing with a fearsome guitar squall midway between Jerry Garcia and John Frusciante": Richard Thompson's Ship To Shore is his most rumbustious album in years

He's back and he's rocking

Richard Thompson: Ship To Shore cover art
(Image: © New West)

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

You never quite know what you’re going to get with Richard Thompson, but some things remain the same: the self-lacerating lyrics, the understated but masterful guitar playing, and the palette that encompasses seemingly everything from his folk roots to carefully deployed Middle Eastern influences. 

Ship To Shore, his nineteenth solo album, on which he’s backed by a supremely taut band, is his most rumbustious in years. 

Lyrically, opener Freeze is as bleak as Ian Curtis (‘Another day without a dream, without a hope, without a scheme/ Another day that finds you crawling on your knees’), but it’s set against a fierce percussive backdrop akin to a the blackest of sea shanties. 

It’s proof that at the age of 75 Thompson can still startle. Elsewhere he’s scuzziness itself on Old Pack Mule, while Maybe climaxes with a fearsome guitar squall midway between Jerry Garcia and John Frusciante, and Life’s A Bloody Show is quietly incandescent. He’s peaking again.

John Aizlewood

As well as Classic Rock, John Aizlewood currently writes for The Times, The Radio Times, The Sunday Times, The i Newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and Mojo amongst others.  He’s written four books and appears on television quite often. He once sang with Iron Maiden at a football stadium in Brazil: he wasn’t asked back. He’s still not sure whether Enver Hoxha killed Mehmet Shehu…