Richard Thompson: Electric (Proper Records) https://www.propermusic.com/
The former Fairport Convention man releases another classic album, one that helps to cement his position as one of the most respected musicians making music in the world today.
Now in his mid-sixties, there is no sign of Richard Thompson losing his edge any time soon. It’s now forty years since his debut Henry The Human Fly, which itself followed his time as a member of Fairport Convention, playing on some of the finest folk rock albums ever made. And that’s not forgetting his contributions to albums by Nick Drake and Sandy Denny. If he had never made another record after 1974, his place in music history would be assured.
Thompson has four strings to his bow: namely, as guitarist, singer, songwriter and lyricist (trust me, the last two do not always go together). Whilst there are numerous people who do one or two of those well, he does all four with style. There’s no shortage of people making ‘roots’ records, drawing on folk, country, blues and rock’n’roll, but there’s something of the je ne sais quoi about Richard Thompson. He makes it seem so easy and effortless, but there’s few who can touch him. It never feels like something worthy, that you want to admire, but can’t like.
And make no mistake: this is classic Thompson, pure and simple. Proof on songs like ‘My Enemy’ that well-crafted songs do not have to mean bland. Guitar work that even if you can’t play one or see him on stage (though if you get the chance, grab it with both hands) makes you gasp with wonder. His voice is as strong as ever (unlike some of his contemporaries from the sixties and seventies who are sounding like they should maybe call it quits).
He does melancholy, but never self-pity. You sense if he caught his partner cheating on him, it would lead to a sharp couplet, rather than rage; controlled beautiful anger, if such a thing is possible. ‘You cried the day I walked you down the aisle/and I know you’ve been bad from the way you smile’ he sings on ‘Good Things Happen To Bad People.’
So yes, I am a Thompson fan, and proud to be. This album may not explain why he remains a respected artist than a massive one- but it confirms once again why those who know him hold him in such high esteem.
All words by Ed Jupp