Electric

Richard Thompson albums are formulaic in the best sense. You expect virtuoso guitar, Jimi Hendrix with a Celtic tinge. You expect top-drawer songwriting – wry stories of soured romance and cruel fate, delivered in the 63-year-old's huffy, dour baritone. On Electric, you'll get what you came for. There are loads of Thompson's revved-up Strat, and the lost-love songs, like "Another Small Thing in Her Favour," are beautifully bleak. Producer Buddy Miller offers small surprises, bringing a primal gospel-blues stomp to "Stony Ground" and roping in bluegrass queen Alison Krauss, who adds harmony vocals on "The Snow Goose." The thrills are few, but the excellence is undeniable.