Out Of The Woods
7.5 out of 10
By Norman Mayers
Tracey Thorn is renowned as the voice of Everything But the Girl, a band that began their career creating heart breaking folk-pop but went on to reinvent themselves as international electronica superstars. While musical and life partner Ben Watt has been traveling the world as a house DJ, Thorn has been off the radar until now. Out Of The Woods is Thorn’s first recorded material in over half a decade and first solo album in over two decades. The album is a pastiche of Thorn’s expansive career, encompassing 80s new wave, psychedelic folk, and elegant electronica. While some moments may sound too much like the international (and timeless) hit “Missing”, Thorn’s melancholy voice is as beautiful as ever and Out Of The Woods succeeds due mostly to her unmistakable presence.
Everything But The Girl will always remain one of the most diverse groups in history and Tracey Thorn channels that into Out Of the Woods. The moments that stand out are so eclectic that they seem to come out of different eras of EBTG’s evolution. The stark balladry of “Hands Up To The Ceiling” is a huge contrast to the futuristic trip-hop of “Easy” yet both tracks are cemented by Thorn’s soaring vocals. Her voice is so singular, expressing vulnerability, sadness and strength simultaneously, allowing her to easily sell both dance oriented tracks and downtempo explorations with ease. The album works best when straddling folk and electronica elements such as on the gossamer laced “A-Z” or the funk-lite of “Falling Off A Log”, yet falters on Blondie-esque cuts like “Get Around To It”. “Grand Canyon” sounds a little too much like those late 90s EBTG tracks, but who can fault Thorn for trying to recapture the magic. But it’s the album closer “Raise The Roof” that leaves the biggest impact, whipping a million 80s references into a shiny percussion laden masterpiece.
So after several years in the dark, Tracey Thorn re-emerges more or less as we remember her, embracing all her incarnations for better or worse. And with a talent as timeless as hers we couldn’t ask for anything more.
Tracey Thorn on Myspace