Tuesday, February 5, 2013


A bit of a shake-up for the venerable British songwriter and guitar hero.  Although he's been squatting in L.A. for several years, here he goes deeper inland, teaming up with veteran producer/artist Buddy Miller (Robert Plant/Emmylou Harris), and for much of the album fronts a roots power trio with Michael Jerome on drums and Taras Prodaniuk on bass.  The title Electric isn't quite accurate, as there are some acoustic numbers here as well, but it's been a bit since he's been this electric, with some (for him) raucous solos and deep-groove tracks. 

That's grand, a new sound for him, then.  There are a few add-ons, such as Stuart Duncan's fiddle, some acoustic bass from Dennis Crouch, and a little mandolin.  There are also the best harmony vocals on a Thompson disc since he split with Linda, from Siobhan Maher Kennedy, and on one track, Alison Krauss.  Gone are the saxes and slight jazz side that's been in play the last little bit.  These are get-to-business rockers.  Straight And Narrow even has a Tex-Mex organ on it, courtesy Thompson himself, as well as one of his best, off-kilter guitar solos.

Oh, it's great to hear those solos, too.  Thompson's aren't like anyone else, as he retains his own heritage, British folk, crossed with Duane Eddy for his own kid of twangy guitar.  And so many here!  We're blessed.  Plus, the ballads that are included are some of his finest, now or ever.  Another Small Thing In Her Favour is a touching send-off to a partner leaving, as he counts her blessings instead of succumbing to anger.  The Snow Goose is fantastically beautiful, with a tremendous, soul-shaking vocal.  The whole album is a balance between angry rockers and touching acoustic folk, and surely ranks up there with his very best in a very long and strong career.

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