Tracey Thorn Tracey ThornLove And Its Opposite
STRANGE FEELINGMany of us continue to hope and pray that Everything But The Girl will come back again some day. We don’t know whether the duo made up of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt will decide to take up its career again when we least expect it, but for right now, it is a remote possibility that doesn’t look very likely. After 28 years as a couple, Tracey and Ben decided to go to the altar in 2009 and, besides being parents –raising three pipsqueaks is no mean feat– they have had to dose out their creativity. Watt has plenty on his plate touring as a DJ and directing his label Buzzin’ Fly and its sub-label Strange Feeling, which has put out the Figurines and now Tracey. Meanwhile, Thorn, after her second folktronic album that came out in 2007 ( “Out Of The Woods”), has only been heard collaborating with the Hungarian band The Unbending Trees on the single “Overture” and covering “Yeah! Oh Yeah!” by the The Magnetic Fields, in a duet with Swedish singer Jens Lekman, for a collection commemorating the 20th anniversary of Merge Records. Losing sight of her has been painful. Once a member of the cult band Marine Girls, before she decided to go the University of Hull, where she met Watt and the legend began, her unmistakeable voice has marked an entire generation (and the following one). I remember when my mother surprised me one Sunday morning, during a general clean-up, with the remix that Todd Terry did for “Missing” like it was yesterday, but I was barely eight years old. How time flies…
Her second studio album didn’t entirely gel as a whole, as it combined folk pieces with others that put her on the dance floor again, like “It’s All True” or “Grand Canyon”, for “Love And Its Opposite,” produced by Ewan Pearson, an extraordinary DJ, remixing magician, (also the hand in the shadow of the debut of Delphic and M83’s “Coleurs”). But this Brit who sings like an angel has given up artifice and uses her voice to sing more intimate pieces—the majority practically acoustic—in which love, the doubts faced by a woman her age, and the nostalgic memories of the past cling to her new reality as a married woman. Even so, no one would guess after hearing “Oh, The Divorces!”–in which, ironically, she wonders who will be the next ones to break their marriage vows– or “Long White Dress,” emulating Aimee Mann with the accompaniment of a guitar, in which she speaks to us of how unnecessary marriage is to having a long-lasting relationship, that Thorn officially became Mrs. Watt just a few months ago.
Going on with the folk thing, Thorn returns the favour to The Unbanding Trees by covering the Magyar band’s “You Are A Lover” and repeating her gloomy duo with Jens Lekman in “Come On Home To Me” by Lee Hazlewood, showing us that she still has a lot to tell us. Although there is no dance music here, there is a reminder of her earlier phase in the retro-funk number “Why Does The Mind?” with that Hammond organ and string quartet that rises above the hypothetical discard of “Out Of The Woods”. Even setting on the table the main uncertainties of a mature woman who is desperately trying to find Prince Charming before she misses her chance—for example in “Singles Bar”, those who are feeling nostalgic for EBTG will be satisfied with “Kentish Town” and “Late In The Afternoon” before the circle closes with the only hopeful song that we can find in these ten cuts, “Swimming”. Here Thorn –with the aid of Cortney Tidwell’s choruses– takes a page from her own autobiography and sings a song of eternal love, which she knows plenty about. We aren’t looking at Thorn’s best compositions from the course of her whole career, but we are always grateful when she leaves her family retreat to sing like only she can—even if she’ll only do it a little bit at a time. Sergio del Amo