Electric by Richard Thompson
Richard Thompson’s latest album, Electric, produced by Buddy Miller, comes in what is arguably his most creatively productive period in a career that stretches back some 45 years, back to his emergence as a teen guitarist and songwriter with the groundbreaking Fairport Convention—the band that essentially invented the term “English folk-rock.” And that’s saying a lot, with his dozens of albums consistently high on critics polls and guitar skills that have earned him a Top 20 spot on Rolling Stone’s list of Best Guitarists of All Time.
Richard Thompson’s many facets only seem to get more, well, multifaceted. “The title’s Electric, and the music sometimes is,” he says.
Mostly electric, to be accurate, and always electrifying. Whether featuring electric or acoustic guitar, the songs are built around the tightly focused core of Thompson’s current, sharply honed trio: drummer Michael Jerome (Better Than Ezra, John Cale) and bassist Taras Prodaniuk (Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello) complementing and often pushing the leader through a full range of emotional explorations.
The album was produced in Nashville by Buddy Miller (Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, not to mention his own acclaimed albums both solo and with wife Julie Miller) at his cozy home studio. Miller provides rhythm guitar here and there, Stuart Duncan guests on fiddle, Siobhan Maher Kennedy (of the English band River City People) sings harmonies on five of the songs and the incomparable Alison Krauss duets on the achingly lovely “The Snow Goose.”
“It strikes that desirable balance between aggression and reflection that we are always aiming for,” he says, before reflecting, “I wasn’t being too serious with that. But perhaps it does work.” It works very well, both as a description and as a body of work, a new chapter in his ever-unfolding musical saga.
Thompson terms the Electric material “funk-folk, or folk-funk.” But that is to large extent just a matter of economy—and limitations—of language, something he’s employed to great effect throughout his career both in lyrics and interviews. “I commented facetiously somewhere that its between Judy Collins and Bootsy Collins,” he notes, wryly.
1. Stony Ground
2. Salford Sunday
3. Sally B
4. Stuck On The Treadmill
5. My Enemy
6. Good Things Happen To Bad People
7. Where's Home
8. Another Small Thing In Her Favour
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