Way back in 2008 was my first opportunity to write about the music of Tracy Shedd. The mixture of grunge and lovelorn ballads on that year’s ‘Cigarettes & Smoke Machines’ album called to mind the missing link between Suzanne Vega and Gemma Hayes. 2010’s ‘EP88’ stripped back the production further with a selection of piano ballads. Now ‘Arizona’ takes an even more back to basics approach with, for the most part, just Shedd and her husband James Tritten’s acoustic guitar.
Named after her home state, the spare arrangements offer the duo no hiding place but they perform with great emotional honesty and distinction. Backed by the most beguiling and sad guitar melodies, ‘Take A Ride’ takes on a shivery, haunting aura, ‘You’re No Fool’ glistens whilst album highlights ‘Control’, ‘Boats’, ‘A Million Pictures’ and ‘Sing To Me’ are full of romantic despair and longing.
Not that this is a one-paced affair at all, the Everything But The Girl-like ‘Broken Arrows’ ups the pace and adds male vocal harmonies whilst the upbeat ‘All The Little Things’ adds a little French for romantic intrigue. Elsewhere, there are also fine covers of both Magnetic Fields’ ‘Candy’ and a delicate take on Sonic Youth’s ‘Teenage Riot’; each delivered with respect, dignity and fresh ideas.
Throughout, Tritten’s contributions are intricate and simplistic when they need to be, winding around the clear and emotionally charged tones of Shedd. Across the three markedly different releases I’ve written about, it’s pleasing to note that not only is Shedd equally at home with each style she performs but also her songwriting seems to resonate and improve more and more with each release. Sterling stuff.
Suzanne Vega, Dawn Dineen, Everything But The Girl