Folk-rocker and guitarist Thompson still has his unique woe-flecked voice (imagine Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry with less affectation). His other trademark is the corkscrewingly penetrative guitar solo—too few of which are on this album.
What distinguishes Rumor and Sigh (the title comes from an Archibald MacLeish poem) is that a few tracks—such as "I Feel So Good"—are perkier than Thompson's norm. And producer Mitchell Froom's arrangements, using a full palette of keyboard textures, makes the songs as cozy and sunny as a breakfast nook.
There are darker moments as well, for example, "Backlash Love Affair," which, with its ominous "Sheik of Araby" motif, sounds like music for the Casbah. Thompson can also still hunker down with heartbreak, as evidenced on such tracks as "I Misunderstood." Also worth hearing are "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," a very trad finger-picked folk number, and the reeling skiffle of "Don't Sit on My Jimmy Shands." (Capitol)