Tracey Thorn – ‘Record’ (Unmade Road/Caroline International)
Fanfares should be sounded! This is Tracey Thorn’s first album of new material in seven years. Now coming up to nearly forty years of music making, in her autobiography Bedsit Disco Queen, Tracey Thorn observes that she has been ‘described as an indie darling, a middle-of-the-road nobody and a disco diva.’ Ms. Thorn is one of a kind, having managed to be so many different things to so many different people, and ‘disco diva’ might well be the lazily applied label which applies here. Yes, it’s her drawing on dance influences – amongst others. (For the record: she has never been a ‘nobody’ in my ears or eyes, or indeed, in many others’.)
Record opens with the appropriately, uh, majestic ‘Queen.’ A song that manages to be both for the head and the feet, it manages to be reflective yet upbeat. Thorn has always been a reflective songwriter – but she’s understood that that doesn’t have to equate to barely accompanying herself on an acoustic guitar. Hell, a lot of this feels like good POP music.
The album was conceived by Thorn as a record that would be listened to in the daytime, possibly on the move rather than being one for the bedroom. A case in point would be ‘Guitar.’ Not only is it impressive to rhyme ‘kissed’ with ‘catalyst’ but this tale of a girl taught to play ‘Teenager In Love’ would have been played out as a guitar-led track in lesser hands. It has the yearning for lost innocence served up in a perfect pop style.
For all the perfect pop singles on here, the album’s centrepiece is the nine-minute ‘Sister.’ It’s described as being a song about female solidarity and defiance for the dance floor. When Thorn sings ‘…and I fight like a girl’ it is no admission of weakness but rather one of female togetherness. It also features Warpaint’s rhythm section, and backing vocals from Corinne Bailey Rae.
This year marks thirty years since Tracey Thorn had, then, one of the biggest hits of her career as one half of Everything But The Girl with a cover of Danny Whitten’s ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It.’ She has described this album as being ‘nine feminist bangers.’ That’s pretty much an accurate description – and no bad thing. It’s clear that she is comfortable changing styles and reinventing herself. This is an album that is a triumph and as the album reaches its end, it seems so natural to start again…
Record is released by Caroline International on March 2.