Electric

Release Date: 
February 5, 2013
Label: 
New West Records
Release Type: 
Album
  1. Stoney 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
  9. Straight And Narrow
  10. The Snow Goose
  11. Saving The Good Stuff For You
  12. Will You Dance, Charlie Boy
  13. I Found A Stray
  14. The Rival
  15. The Tic-Tac Man
  16. Auldie Riggs
  17. Auldie Riggs (Dance)
  18. So Ben Mi Ch'a Bon Tempo

On Thompson’s new album, pointedly titled Electric, all of that is boiled down to its intense essence. Well, maybe not the hockey part—though there is a decidedly full-contact quality to his music and words, as always.

“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)—who’s anchored his bands for more than a decade—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.