Album Review: Tracey Thorn – Record

So here’s what we already knew. Firstly, that Tracey Thorn is the queen of cool. In the nineties when her band Everything But The Girl started hanging out with the likes of Massive Attack, Deep Dish and got the remix treatment by Todd Terry, they developed their own brand of laid back electronic pop. Both Thorn and husband/EBTG bandmate Ben Watt have run with this style to forge their own successful solo careers. Thorn’s last full length album was a collection of Christmas songs. Not something too easy to do without moving into the ‘cheesy’ territory. But her choice of songs and delivery even made this cool. Not an easy thing to do. Secondly, Thorn has a voice that separates her from any of her contemporaries. She has always managed to creative such an emotive sound with ever even raising her her voice. The word ‘haunting’ to describe the vocal prowess of similar vocalists has almost become a cliche. But with Thorn it is difficult to describe without using the word; she is practically the very definition itself.

‘Record’ is Tracey’s first full studio album since 2012’s ‘Tinsel and Lights.’ There’s been plenty to keep fans occupied in the meantime. Forever the hard worker, Thorn has released numerous singles, collaborations, a solo best of collection, as well as her soundtrack to Carol Morley’s movie, ‘The Falling.’ ‘Record’ features nine brand new track, two of which have been released as singles. ‘Queen’ was first up, and is a brilliant introduction to what the new album is all about. Opening the album up, it is a catchy electro pop track, the kind of sound she developed with Watt. Then comes the trip-hop stylings of ‘Sister,’ a female empowering anthem, with added vocals from Yorkshire lass Corinne Bailey Rae. The album features an epic eight minute version that expands from the single mix with added electronic madness.

There’s a real sound of the eighties in the synths of tracks like ‘Guitar’ and ‘Dancefloor,’ producing the kind of sound that EBTG might have done back then if they had discovered electronic music pre nineteen-nineties. The brilliant production that continues through the nine tracks is mixed the quirky and original lyrics, giving you something new to discover on each listen. There is a real sense of story telling, most strongly put forward on wartime tale ‘Smoke’ (She survived the blitz, though she knew a girl who was blown to bits). ‘Babies’ ceremoniously gives us everything from contraception up to the eventual ‘joys’ of having children (Get the f*ck to bed now). Then there’s Face, a blow by blow guide to social media.

Tracey Thorn has been a part of the basic ‘bizz’ for as long as I can remember. Whilst her music has always remained cool and chilled, she has continued to remain interesting and relevant. Her music doesn’t shamelessly scream for radio or chart attention. What she does is create the music she wants to make; a great message for an album with such a strong message of female empowerment. And that’s really relevant right now. With the Hollywood scandal and the me too campaign, ‘Record’ is an album by strong female artist with a lot to say.

‘Record’ is out now.

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