Locally World Famous (Self-released)
By: Gail Worley
I'd hesitate to call Locally World Famous a full-on country album, but singer/songwriter/guitarist Eric Thompson does such an ace job of covering a broad range of studied country-related styles -- from honky tonk and classic Americana to Rockabilly and today's heavily mutated alt-country-rock -- that it's hard to imagine many country enthusiasts (or any music fan) wouldn't fall in love with this album on first listen.
As the follow up to Manic + Organic-- his 2002 release that had critics salivating all over each other -- Locally World Famous kicks off with "Gone, Gone, Gone" where Thompson's voice embodies the evocative twang of the late great Hank Williams. The ecstatic, rockabilly rave-up, "Gotta Lotta Lovin'" conjures the ghost of The King and his many imitators (Stray Cats, anyone?) and sparkles with a timeless energy. The south-of-the-border feel of "Road Yer Travelin'' sounds like something that could have come from a John Mellencamp album and "Something's Up" is his homage to every country-tinged rock song the Rolling Stones ever did, right down to his astounding Jagger-esque vocal inflections (great job Eric)!
Some of the most enjoyable moments on this album revolve around Thompson's fluid, seemingly endlessly malleable vocals and how they adjust perfectly to fit each song's mood. Listeners could easily mistake his performances for those of three or more unique vocalists. There are also some memorable instrumental touches on Locally World Famous, such as the moving pedal steel guitar (courtesy of Dave "Crisis" Ristrim) on "Cypher & The Muse" and the classic blues rock feel of Baxter Robertson's keyboards on the closing track, "Pack of Lies."
A million miles away from the cookie cutter approach of today's formulaic pop bands, Eric Thompson's Locally World Famous is a joyous reminder that it's still possible to find music that doesn't sound like it came from a can.