3/11/2013 (updated 3/11/2013)

One of the great songwriters of the modern era delivers a rocking album balanced by acoustic sensitivity.

Thompson has always been consistent without resorting to cliche.

Thompson continues to have a knack for storytelling with often dark humor.

The seven-track bonus disc is no mere throwaway of odds and ends: Thompson's too talented to create inferior work. Thompson is noted for dispensing windfall material via his website, fan base mailings, and so on. The supplementary disc for Electric is a continuation of that appreciation. There is upfront and upbeat country, such "Will You Dance, Charlie Boy," about an elderly bloke who still can tear up the dancefloor, even if the seat of his pants are worn and drooping. Duncan's fiddle is a star of this tune, and he also adds punch to the affecting acoustic ballad, "I Found a Stray," about a starving, trembling and troubled woman adopted by a stranger. But the good guy discovers, "Whatever life she had to live/It was a life of moving on. I woke up one day to find/My little stray had come and gone." Thompson also delivers a mini-suite, the thematically-linked "Auldie Riggs" and "Auldie Riggs Dance," initally offered on the online-only Thompson conceptual record, Cabaret of Souls (2012). The primary piece is a disturbing ditty about a serial killer sailor who strangles, stabs, or dissolves victims in lye. It's gruesome, well-written and not easily forgotten. The second, instrumental section is the dying seaman's dance of celebration in honor of his nefarious deeds. Thompson concludes with a choice cover, an Italian folk song, "So Ben Mi Ch'a Bon Tempo," by Orazio Vecchi, which dates to the 16th century: this can also be heard on Thompson's 2003 live document, 1000 Years of Popular Music (also available only online through Thompson's website).

Doug Simpson, Autophile Audition