Picks and Pans Review: Mirror Blue

updated 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Richard Thompson

There is no denying Thompson's guitar artistry. He and his group, Fairport Convention, were central to Great Britain's folk-rock movement of the '60s, and he later refined his style as a duet partner with his wife Linda. Even before their divorce in the early '80s, Richard Thompson released significant solo records, and when Capitol picked him up five years ago, it seemed to revitalize an already vital talent.

Following 1991's Grammy-nominated Rumor and Sigh and last year's three-CD retrospective, Watching the Dark, Thompson's latest effort offers 13 exceptional songs produced in a style more raw and stripped down than usual. He is a master storyteller, arid the centerpiece on Mirror Blue is the brutally truthful "The Way It Shows," a mournful song of misdirected passions on which his guitar seems to cry with cathartic clarity.

Thompson also knows how to bridge the angst between weepy ballads and bleak love songs, using humorous tunes like "MGB-GT" or "Fast Food" ("Sugar, grease, fats and starches/ Fine to dine at the Golden Arches"). "Mingus Eyes," meanwhile, is so haunting, and Thompson's guitar and voice so prominent in the mix, you'd swear he was standing in your living room.

A guitarist-songwriter this captivating still needs compelling songs to drive. Thankfully, Thompson has plenty. (Capitol)

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