The Old Kit Bag

After a lifetime of making graceful music out of turmoil, British singer-songwriter Richard Thompson's taut, literary folk pop is as odd and pleasing as ever. The Old Kit Bag, his twenty-fifth album, is chimerical rock girded by Thompson's stringed arsenal — dulcimer, mandolin, harmonium. But the soul of the music is death-haunted folk, and Thompson's own resiliency: The Old Kit Bag is a travelogue of a damaged heart, breezing lightly in "I'll Tag Along," leaping up for the Celtic dance "One Door Opens," angrily questioning on "Outside of the Inside." Thompson is saved from pretentiousness by how honestly he comes by his mannered delivery, how effortfully the heaving rhythms push into each measure and how every simple revelation sounds hard-earned.

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