Nearly everyone is found guilty in a Richard Thompson song. Take the horny geezer in “Walking on Stony Ground,” the opening track on Electric, the great British guitarist-songwriter’s mostly plugged-in “power-wimp” trio album with drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk. Unable to contain his lust for “an Irish rose with thorns,” the codger is beaten senseless by her brothers. There’s also the hot, teasing and bible-believing Southern belles of “Sally B” and “Straight and Narrow”; the hungover wife abuser of the Kinks-ian “Salford Sunday”; and the suspicious husband and cheating spouse in the rollicking “Good Things Happen to Bad People.” Imperfections apparent, they are all regaled by Thompson’s gloriously spluttering, spiraling and harmonically inspired Celtic-tinged solos.
Thompson long ago electrified the Anglo folk tradition’s too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral and hey-nonny-nonny tropes as a founding member of Fairport Convention. His later mastery of a kind of “Anglocana”-noir manifests itself on Electric in songs like “The Snow Goose” — a duet with Alison Krauss in which he sings that “Nothern winds will cut you/ Nothern girls will gut you/ Leave you cold and empty like a fish on a slab” — and “My Enemy,” a slow, seething survivor’s tale in which vengeance is far from sweet. The instrumentation may not always be electric, but the playing, writing and singing sure as hell are.