After the full-on, amped-up assault of 2010’s Dream Attic, Thompson has reined in his six-stringed excesses for an album which, despite its title, is noticeably less electric than its predecessor. Recorded at producer Buddy Miller’s Nashville home (drums in the lounge, guitars in the kitchen), Electric’s easy manner and open spaces help make the album Thompson’s most rewarding release since 1999’s Mock Tudor.
That’s not to suggest his earlier work this century was in any way inferior, but the songs on Electric are given more opportunity to breathe and worm their way into our hearts. There’s venom in the lovers’ autopsy Good Things Happen To Bad People and tearful regret in Another Small Thing In Her Favour, while Salford Sunday and Saving The Good Stuff For You bristle with folksy optimism, the restraint of the instrumentation serving rather than swamping the lyrics.
The album is performed by a stripped-down trio, with Buddy Miller occasionally adding rhythm guitar himself, while the voices of Alison Krauss and Siobhan Maher Kennedy offer sweet counterpoints to Thompson’s own clipped tones. The former makes her mark on the gentle The Snow Goose, while the latter provides understated harmonies on several tracks, most effectively on the forlorn Where’s Home? and the restrained ode to co-dependence My Enemy.