Review Archive

‘Electric’ from Richard Thompson - a feast for Thompson fans

(January 26, 2013)

There isn’t much that hasn’t been written about Richard Thompson and not much that hasn’t been done or won ... listed in the Rolling Stone Top 20 Guitarists Of All Time, Orville H. Gibson award for best acoustic guitar, Ivor Novello songwriting award, Mojo Les Paul Award for ‘Guitar Legend’, BBC ElectricLifetime Achievement Award ... the catalogue goes on. And to prove that the years diminish the man not one jot, Richard releases his fourteenth studio album, ‘Electric’ in February 2013 - and it’s right up there with his best.

Aside from an inimitable guitar style, Thompson posses a distinctive voice that delivers his idiosyncratic songs in a way that many imitate and few master. This album reflects all his skill and style, and serves up a feast for Thompson fans; in his own words: “...surprisingly funky, sort of a new genre - folk-funk.” And that’s precisely what you get, a two-CD album of characteristic Thompson-style songs with a strong guitar-driven, rhythmic groove embellished with pulsating bass and formidable drumming.

From the powerful, thrusting opener ‘Stony Ground’ awash with acerbic lyrical observation, through the softer, reflective taleof ‘Salford Sunday’ to the touching potency and piercing truth of ‘Sally B’ – this is one hundred percent undiluted Thompson. The riches continue in the shape of ‘Good Things Happen to Bad People’ with its deep-seated examination of life’s vagaries; the contemplative ‘Where’s Home’ offers mouth-watering fiddle and guitar breaks. Then there’s the achingly moving ‘Another Small Thing in Her Favour’ with the devastatingly sharp Thompson lyrics we have come to love, and while in the mood there’s the agonising honesty of ‘The Snow Goose’ complete with delicious harmonies from Alison Krauss.

The second ‘bonus disc’ CD offers up more electric, string-driven rhythm-possessed folk rock. There’s more rock than folk with ‘Will You Dance Charlie Boy’ – sit still through this one? Not a chance. ‘The Rival’ complete with energy-sapping, vivacious fiddle track keeps you bouncing, and you’re also treated to a couple jaunty of tracks in the ‘folk rock tradition’ from the ‘Carpet of Souls’ album, namely ‘Auldie Riggs’ and ‘Auldie Riggs Dance’. I guess you really don’t need me to tell you that this album will go down as another Thompson masterpiece – but I will, it’s great.

Playing on ‘Electric’ are Richard Thompson (guitar, vocals, accordion, keyboard, mandolin, hurdy-gurdy) Michael Jerome (drums, percussion, harmony vocals) Taras Prodaniuk (bass, mandocello, harmony vocals) Dennis Crouch (bass) Stuart Duncan (fiddle) Buddy Miller (guitar) with Alison Krauss (harmony vocals on ‘The Snow Goose’) Siobhan Maher Kennedy (harmony vocals).

Electric’ is out on Proper Records in a two-CD, high-quality, triple-fold cover with comprehensive sleeve notes and a full lyric booklet. There’s also a UK tour from Wednesday 20 February – full details here: ‘Electric’ and Tour.

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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