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A wry view of life for the world-weary

Music In The Soul Can Be Heard By The Universe

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Electric – Richard Thompson

Second only to my sense of anticipation at the arrival of Dylan’s latest oeuvre is my excitement over Richard Thompson’s latest album plopping through the letter box. For once, the South American river’s pre-ordering service didn’t let me down although it is a wonder it reached its destination thanks to the bizarre positioning of the address label.

Thompson, in my opinion Britain’s finest guitarist, released his twenty-second post-Fairport album and like its immediate predecessor, Dream Attic, is full of fury and energy. The production is better – probably because it is a studio album and not recorded live – the band pared down and his voice is crisp and clear.

After a couple of play-throughs the album seems more immediately accessible and mixes Thompson’s deep understanding and affinity with the English folk tradition with more obvious American influences. Sally B has a very distinctive bluesy feel, unusual for Thompson. Stand out tracks are the catchy and beautiful Salford Sunday, the opening track, Stony Ground with its frenetic guitar licks, Where’s Home? with some fine violin work by Stuart Duncan, My Enemy, and the subtle and moving Good Things Happen To Bad People.

What is impressive is Thompson’s emotional and musical range and his core band, a stripped down ensemble with Michael Jerome on drums and Taras Prodaniuk on bass, lay down a surprisingly funky set of rhythms to spur the maestro on. Recorded at producer Buddy Miller’s Nashville home – Miller has worked with Robert Plant’s Band of Joy amongst others – Electric crackles with energy – why is the most stunning music released today produced by artists over the conventional retirement age? – and doesn’t fail to deliver. Check it out.

 

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