Based in Arizona, Tracy Shedd released the highly impressive ‘Cigarettes & Smoke Machines’ at the back-end of 2008. With an equal admiration for grunge and lovelorn ballads, it was a stylistically adventurous album but consistent in its good quality. Next up is a five-track EP based around piano, the place where she began her musical education as a six year-old.
‘City Of Night’ is a spare ballad; its hushed intimacy and hopeful melody proving that sometimes the most simplistic arrangements are the most effective. ‘How Your Eyes Affect Me’ enlists husband James Tritten’s on nagging guitar duty to accompany Shedd, with her voice yearning and pulling at the heartstrings again. ‘Tokyo Rose’ and ‘West Inn Love’ fare less well. They seem to be building up to good songs but then when you grasp at the hook which drives them, they slip away from view as they finish too quickly. This just leaves ‘Husbands & Wives’; by some distance the longest track and without question the most dramatic as well. It builds on a threatening post-rock drone and is sweetened by Shedd’s beautifully clear voice.
Shedd’s new EP may lack the variety of the previous album but the songwriting remains top notch. Furthermore, she has revisited her past with the added benefit the of her maturing years, yet she’s still able to evoke childlike awe in her plaintive tones.
Suzanne Vega, Gemma Hayes