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Tracey Thorn - Out Of The Woods

Released on Astralwerk Records, 3/20/07

Musical heroine, Tracey Thorn, the svelte, emotive vocal wife-half of electronic-pop dynamic duo, Everything But The Girl, dangles her second solo release without Ben Watt, Out Of The Woods. She pulls this musical caper so in-character of her that Tracey Thorn fans will not find anything less than what they’d expect, for this album is neither haughty nor experimental and her trademark vocals make it unquestionably worthwhile.

Out Of The Woods takes a stylistic opening with, “Here It Comes Again” sounding like a little Enya with an electronic harp sung with holiday cadence. The electric-café tunes roll off with their electronic stabs here and there, perhaps tinkering in homage to the eighties new wave with a 2007 twist. You can almost view Out Of The Woods like a collage of her work of times past behind.

“It’s All True” comes with an introduction reminiscent of mod-god-father, Paul Weller’s The Style Council where Thorn has crooned on a tune called “Blue Café” back in the eighties. On the tune, “Easy”, you may hear the inspiration coming from Johnny Cash’s version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”. “Grand Canyon” and “Get Around To It” services the disco-ee beat that EBTG fans will identify with.

It has been nearly a decade since we’ve heard anything new from EBTG except for a "best of" called Back To Mine and Thorn’s premiere solo release, A Distant Shore was back in 1982. The hiatus from the last eight years were tended to her marked maternity leave while Ben Watts has been self-promoting his own DJ work around the globe including a stint at San Francisco’s Slim’s. Most recently, fans were left with a peep of a fresh recording when she guest starred on Germany’s import, Tiefschwarz’s “Damage” in 2005.

The electronic digitized formula that has served well for EBTG builds the room of sound that Tracey Thorn’s never-failing vocals can shine through. Out Of The Woods does not solely have that dance/house feeling that EBTG has come to capitalize on but instead, she comes out on her own moving up and down the electronic wave and acoustic pectolite without a pause.

Sure there are the ballads that our subtle mercurial chanteuse abide by and it’s her ability that to make that digitized sound accessible through her vocals, bare and vulnerable and yet able to melt armor. In many ways Out Of The Woods is like a addendum to her first release from over twenty years ago. But of course, with age and maturity, the short-comings are flushed out and what she perfects is rounded out.

Out Of The Woods is not a challenging record yet to be fortunate enough to make this record without expectations to appease a record label is a diamond mine for the fans. Fans are granted a listen to musical ideas that may not be so future-driven and with an earshot Tracey Thorn fans can distinguish without a hitch what half she brings to EBTG. And, well, that’s what gives good ear.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars