Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Richard Thompson - Electric (New West, 2013)

Guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson has had a wonderful and influential career, stretching over forty years from his work in Fairport Convention to a partnership with his then-wife Linda and finally a productive solo career. While he never achieved mainstream success, his droll wit and powerful guitar playing have brought him a strong following across the globe. Despite its title, this album is pretty evenly spread between hard-charging rockers and more introspective acoustic songs. He grabs the listener right off the bat with “Stony Ground” leading a taught electric band through a whiplash fast performance, balanced by lyrics about obsession and consequences. “Salford Sunday” dials back the instrumental intensity for a sad tale of lost whimsy set against a Sunday holiday. Thompson mines romantic regret and longing very well, his songwriting on the subject may be filled with pathos and bile but it is never maudlin or cloying. Also in this vein are the bitter and remorseful “Another Small Thing in Her Favor” and the dark, stormy yet ultimately hopeful tale, “Saving the Good Stuff For You.” Of course, he can’t resist twisting the knife a little bit, and “My Enemy” is a slow, haunting tale of long simmering hatred which has marinated to the point that the narrator can barely summon the strength to celebrate his rival’s failure. Lest things get too serious he goes back to the electric guitar with a sly nod and wink on “Good Things Happen to Bad People” which he assures us only lasts “for a while.” This was another typically excellent album from Richard Thompson, he is seemingly unable to make a poor one. The songwriting is equal to his best material, and the music either with a tight strung electric trio or winsome acoustic guitar is always engaging and exciting. Electric -

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