Richard Thompson was an important part of the original Fairport Convention during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their fusion of electric folk and rock resulted in some of the most creative music of the era and established a new sound in British music. After leaving the band in 1971, he produced a series of brilliant albums with his then wife, Linda, for the next decade. Since 1983 he has been issuing solo albums that have continued to explore his unique brand of folk and rock.
His latest album, Electric, was released February 11th. It comes as both a regular and deluxe CD. There is also a vinyl version if you are so inclined. The deluxe edition contains an extra disc of material and is the recommended version.
If there is one thing that has been consistent throughout his career, it is his ability to play the guitar. Whether it is an acoustic or electric guitar, his sound is unique and immediately identifiable. While there as some guests, he keeps the music simple. His chief support is drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk, who also provide the background vocals. This simple rhythm section keeps the focus on Thompson and he shines throughout the release.
Tracks such as “Stony Ground,” “Sally B,” “Stuck on the Treadmill,” “Good Things Happen to Bad People,” and “Straight and Narrow” are a guitar lover’s delight. The solos may be a little short at times, but the songs are structured so they can be extended or used as a jumping off place for some improvisation when performed on stage.
His lyrics are not the most upbeat as they are moody and explore such topics as financial problem, relationships, and the ills of life. They are always incisive as he examines the world around him. At times his stories are enhanced by his wry wit.
A track that runs counterpoint to what surrounds it is “The Snow Goose.” It is an acoustic piece that features some vocals by Alison Krauss.
The second disc may not have the cohesive excellence of the first, but “Will You Dance Charlie Boy,” “I Found a Stray,” and “The Rival” are melodic and rootsy and would have fit in fine on the first disc.
Richard Thompson’s career is well into its fifth decade. Electric proves that his creative juices are still flowing and his technical ability remains intact. Electric is a must for fans and a fine introduction for anyone not familiar with his music.