Richard Thompson Discusses His Stellar New Album ‘Ship to Shore’: Exclusive

The legendary Richard Thompson returns with Ship to Shore today. Critics are already calling the new 12-song collection the finest Thompson has released in the 21st century and one of the best in his deep discography. Recorded in Woodstock, New York, the album sees the folk-rock pioneer reaching out to various cultural influences and infusing them into the sound he’s spent decades building.

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Ahead of the release of Ship to Shore, Thompson sat down with American Songwriter to talk about the record. During the conversation, he talked about the eclectic sounds he used in the project, his favorite cuts from the album, and more.

[RELATED: Lines, Please: 8 Amazing Lyrical Moments from Richard Thompson]

Richard Thompson on the Sound of Ship to Shore

“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Richard Thompson said when asked about pulling all of the different sounds and influences for the record. Then, he pointed to an example. “The opening track called ‘Freeze’ sounds a little bit African. There was nothing deliberate about that. I was thinking a Celtic jig, like a Scottish or Irish jug but it came out more of a rolling thing,” he explained. “Jig time in Scotland or Ireland is 6/8 time and this sounds like 12/8, it’s a longer cycle. I don’t know why that is,” he added.

Thompson’s unique style shines through no matter what other sounds he adds to his music. He revealed how he strikes that balance where others fall short. “If you establish a style, you can bring other ideas into it and it’s still your style,” he said. “If you haven’t established a style, it can sound like you’re being a colonialist or like you’re just grabbing things for flavor or coloration—it’s not really you. There has to be some foundation of you,” he explained.

Thompson on His Favorite Tracks on Ship to Shore

“I like all of them,” he said with a laugh when asked about his favorite track on the album. “That’s a good thing,” he added. “’Singapore Sadie’ is a song that we play live a lot and it’s very popular,” he added. Then, he named a few more tracks before saying, “Golly, that’s half the album. It’s like having a favorite child, you’re not supposed to do that.” Then, he narrowed things down. “My favorite right now is ‘The Day That I Give In.’ But tomorrow it might be something different.”

Ship to Shore is available to stream everywhere now.

Featured Image by David Kaptein

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