First Listen

WXPN Radio

The premier guide for new and significant artists in rock, blues, and folk - including NPR-syndicated World Cafe ®

Jingle Jams

Jingle Jams. An eclectic assortment of holiday tunes, from the new and quirky to the classic.

World Cafe Archives

Join David Dye as he navigates the World Cafe through performances and interviews with celebrated and emerging artists.

XPoNential Radio

24/7 Musical discovery. A unique mix of emerging and heritage blues, rock, world, folk, and alt-country artists.
Listen Live

First Listen

Enjoy previews of select, upcoming albums, in their entirety on FIRST LISTEN.

First Listen: Richard Thompson, 'Electric'

Loading the player ...
Audio for this feature is no longer available.
The title of Richard Thompson's 21st solo album, Electric, promises a change of pace while doubling as a mission statement. And, sure enough, the record finds the great guitarist, singer and songwriter plugging in and indulging his rock 'n' roll side, complete with occasional solos that qualify as workouts. On an acoustic guitar, Thompson often simulates the sound of several players plucking and strumming at once. But feed his guitars through amplifiers, as he does right up until Electric's final two songs, and he's a folksinger who doesn't sound out of place shredding like an arena-rock star.
Still, to focus too heavily on Thompson's instrumentation — easy to do, given his incredible proficiency — is to give short shrift to these songs' power, poignancy and point of view. As a lyricist, Thompson can be cranky, heartfelt, acerbic and fiercely political at the same time, and that holds true whether he's singing the praises of enmity ("My Enemy") or churning out workingman's laments like "Stuck on the Treadmill."
Produced by another guitarist's-guitarist, Buddy Miller — who describes the process of recording with Thompson as "a two-week guitar lesson" — Electric (out Feb. 5) has an unmistakable bite to it; even when he's singing about romance, the songs have titles like "Good Things Happen to Bad People." But on Electric, Thompson's misanthropy always registers as vitality. Forty-five years into a versatile and incomparable career that's included classic albums with Fairport Convention and his ex-wife Linda Thompson, he still matters on his own, and still writes songs that sting and storm.
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Audio: by

Click each song title for individual tracks, the last track is the album in its entirety.

Loading the player ...
GoogleNewsGeneric Zithromax