Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tracey Thorn - Out Of The Woods

Tracey Thorn, "Here It Comes Again" (YSI link)

Tracey Thorn, "Get Around To It"
(YSI link)

I'm working on my resume and cover letter right now, burning the midnight oil. What is it about listening to music late at night? No matter how much I tell myself to avoid the sad stuff, it just comes on. Does anyone else have this instinct? It's like the night and moon and silence conspire against you and you find yourself joining them in the darkness and eeriness. Tonight, I found myself pulling out Tracey Thorn's Out Of The Woods and just giving in to her gorgeous, heartbreaking voice and not fighting the sadness for the night. I guess I should be thankful I haven't clicked on The Queen Is Dead.

Tracey Thorn is a name that may not jump out at you right away, since she is best known as being one-half of Everything But The Girl with her partner Ben Watt. In 1982, before EBTG got rolling, she released one solo album called A Distant Shore. After that, she would do nothing under her own name until March 2007, when she released her second LP, Out Of The Woods. I'm sorry I didn't get to this one sooner, but am glad that I brought it back out for a listen as I come up with the best of the year list.

It's a very good album, Thorn's voice is stunning, the lyrics have a sadness to them, the production trades in house and disco and pop, a not-too-common combination of the club and the bedroom listening. Think of it as torch songs for the club or melancholic disco. Anyone who has loved stuff like Annie and Robyn or the great electronic acts like Portishead should find something to their liking. The album is 11 songs, alternating between downtempo, near-ballads and more upbeat, club-friendly tracks. The front and back ends are excellent, the middle songs bog down a little for me with too much sameness and too

Opener "Here It Comes Again" is stunning, my favorite track on the album. You know I'm a sucker for a beautiful, heartbreaking sad song and this is as good as it gets. In fact, it's the least electronic song on the album, with strings, twinkling bells, horns and Thorn's voice transfixing you for the entire 3 minutes. I want this playing song playing in the film about my life, post-MC break-up, sitting on a bench in Rittenhouse Square, watching little kids run around and play and be merry. "Get Around To It" might seem familiar to you, as it's a cover of an Arthur Russell song. Covering an Arthur Russell song, a Pound for Pound hero, is risky, like stuffing your bra. It ends up working quite nicely, heading back to Russell's day for a nice disco-vibe with cowbell, funky bassline and some synth smears.

Pick up a copy of this LP, as it's an excellent release and has made it onto many of the dance magazines' best of the year lists. Word is that Thorn and Pearson have begun collaborating on the follow-up already, which should be a good look for 2008.


Crash Calloway said...

'By Picadilly Station' is my favourite song on the album but you're right, the whole thing is a stunner and it's perfect late night listening.

djROY said...

If you like Tracey's solo stuff, or her work with the highly under-rated (by modern hipsters) EBTG... you should def. check out Marine Girls. They put out two albums "Lazy Ways" and "Beach Party" on Cherry Red Records in the very early eighties. Great minimalistic, twee-pop featuring a sprightly young Tracey Thorn. The "Fever" cover alone is worth the price of admission. A more shambolic, human Young Marble Giants, if you will.