NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

June 12, 2014

A musical taste of Britain

Renowned folk-rock artist back in Port for solo acoustic show

Internationally acclaimed British folk-rocker Richard Thompson returns to Newburyport next Friday night.

Thompson will sing and play solo acoustic guitar in the theater at Newburyport High School, where he will be joined by “violin troubadour” Joyce Andersen.

Named “the finest rock songwriter after Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Hendrix” by the Los Angeles Times, Thompson emerged in the late 1960s as one of the vanguard musicians of the United Kingdom’s folk-rock movement.

After being kick-started by revolutionary artists like Bob Dylan and The Byrds, British folk-rock found its greatest inspiration in European folk influences. Thompson’s music centers around his voice, backed by either acoustic or “clean,” undistorted electric guitar in the foreground.

“This is rock music with a slightly different root,” Thompson said. “It’s more in the British tradition: Celtic music, English music, Scottish music. ... It uses different modes sometimes. There are different melodic ideas, different song structures, and lyrically, the language is a little more British.”

His latest album, “Electric,” showcases a trio of Thompson, drummer Michael Jerome and bass player Taras Prodaniuk, with additional vocals by bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss and guitar by country artist Buddy Miller, who offered his own home as a recording studio.

“Electric” was written over the course of three months and often gives the impression of nostalgic folk band overlaid with a driving-but-lighthearted drumbeat. Though songs like “Sally B” present a full-bodied interplay between the bass and electric guitar that wouldn’t be out of place in the hardest edges of The Beatles’ songbook, just a few tracks later, “Another Small Thing in Her Favor” paints the picture of a lonely Thompson, strumming out a classic “lost-love divorce” country lament and feeling Americana to the core aside from the hint of an accent.

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