From time to time, Electric lives up to its title. For example, "Sally B" takes a lyrical blues verse form but thrashes out the melody with raw, punk energy. Likewise, "Stuck on the Treadmill" is primitive power trio rock. A strong guitar hook drives "Good Things Happen to Bad People" in a performance that's pure radio-friendly pop. The song's third section, in fact, is a return to the classic jams of the late '60s.
Shifting gears again, "Where's Home?" seems crafted for contemporary country audiences who like good-time mandolin strums, Appalachian violins (played by Stuart Duncan), and front porch harmony singing. In this case, that's with English singer-songwriter Siobhan Maher-Kennedy who joins Thompson on several songs. Speaking of country, it's hard to beat the exquisite storytelling of "Another Small Thing in Her Favour" in which the singer observes all the small things that add up to what attracts him to his lady. Another woman also has a list of virtues in "Straight And Narrow," but the musical setting is a more hard-driving '60s AM single approach, complete with runs on a Hammond organ that's neither Celtic nor funk.
Finally, "Saving The Good Stuff For You" is a typical album closer with Thompson looking over his past life and determining that he is gray of head, but has saved what matters—ostensibly his lady, perhaps his children, or more inclusively we, the audience—for you.
Produced in Buddy Miller's home studio in Nashville, Electric is a no-frills, quickly knocked out affair with no pretensions or unneeded gloss. As with every Thompson album, guitar players will enjoy the primer he offers, especially his solos and hot licks. For everyone else, odds are there will be nuggets to appreciate if not the collection as a whole. Most of the songs, for the lyrics alone, are worthy of more than one listen. Try "Stony Ground" and see if you want to hear the rest of the ride.