Tracey Thorn is the voice of Everything But The Girl -- a timeless cross-generational voice spanning the gaps of modern pop, folk and electronica.
From her first heard stint with the post-punk The Marine Girls, through best-selling eighties alt-pop with Everything But The Girl, to her re-emergence in the nineties with EBTG's world-trouncing crossover-electronica ('Missing', 'Walking Wounded') and seminal guest appearances with Massive Attack ('Protection'), Deep Dish ('The Future Of The Future'), and just recently a Grammy-nominated collaboration Tiefschwarz feat. Tracey Thorn "Damage Thorn (Buick Project Remix), " she has articulated so many soundtracks to our modern lives with her simple, direct, tender-tough deliveries and lyrics.
In 2000, after twenty years of recording and touring, and shortly after the birth of the first of the three children with professional and private life partner Ben Watt, she walked away from music to raise her family. And for five years she did not sing a note.
But by 2005 she found herself writing again, and a chance guest appearance on uber-hip German electro duo, Tiefschwarz's album Eat Books whetted an appetite to write more and return to the studio. With Ben tied up with his own new record label and DJ career and their mutual agreement that EBTG would remain on long-term hiatus, she chose to go it alone. "After years of making records with Ben," says Tracey, "it just seemed time to take a break, and do something fresh."
Eschewing hi-tech equipment, she bought an old-fashioned 4-track cassette recorder, waited for the house to empty during the day and recorded a clutch of raw demos and ideas at home with her guitar and some quirky instruments purchased on eBay. In contrast to the primitivism of the demos, she then deliberately handpicked some of the most future-facing and imaginative producers currently working in the world of electronica to help her fully realize the project.
The result is Out Of Woods. Musically it is a snapshot of so much music she has ever been into and about, capturing moments of late seventies disco, pastoral folk-psychedelica, dance floor pop bliss and stark balladry.
There's some serene techno emptiness from Martin Wheeler (Vector Lovers), a bit of modernist heartbreak house from Alex Santos, an amazing pastoral arrangement of flutes and flugels by Charles Webster.. I've done 2 songs with cagedbaby (Tom Gandey) one a kind of shimmering piece of Scritti Politti-style pop called Raise the Roof, and the other a downtempo lament about gay teenagers getting bullied at school, called A-Z.
But my main collaborator/producer is Ewan Pearson, and we've done seven tracks together. A cover of Arthur Russell's Get Around To It, featuring some wonky freakout sax from Gabe of The Rapture. A new song called It's All True, co-written with Sasse and Darshan Jesrani (Metro Area), which is pure early 80's New York dance pop. A piano ballad which Ewan says sounds like "The Carpenters on acid"
Her prime collaborator became Ewan Pearson, whose peerless track record in contemporary clubland runs from early work for leading techno label, Soma, to his current status of producer and remixer for the likes of Goldfrapp, Pet Shop Boys, Nelly Furtado, The Chemical Brothers, and the forthcoming Rapture album. Although Tracey would assure you it was their discovered shared love of Dusty Springfield and Rufus Wainwright that clinched the working relationship! "We've done seven tracks together," says Tracey, "A cover of Arthur Russell's ''Get Around To It, featuring some wonky freakout sax from Gabe of The Rapture. A new song called 'It's All True,' co-written with Sasse and Darshan Jesrani (Metro Area), which is pure early 80's New York dance pop. A piano ballad which Ewan says sounds like "The Carpenters on acid."
Meanwhile, veteran English house producer, Charles Webster, contributes a beautiful flutes 'n' flugels arrangement to "Nowhere Near." Berlin-via-York's Martin Wheeler aka Vector Lovers shares credits on "Easy" with his cinematic splinters of future-techno. Alex Santos from Lisbon's Darkmountaingroup (from Watt's own Buzzin' Fly record label) adds deep minimal House to "Grand Canyon." And there are two songs with Brighton's Tom Gandey aka Cagedbaby, "one a kind of shimmery piece of Scritti Politti-style pop called 'Raise the Roof,' notes Tracey," and "and the other a downtempo lament about gay teenagers getting bullied at school, called A-Z."
But the heartbeat to the record is Thorn herself, her voice dipping and climbing into beautiful new vocal ranges ('Here It Comes Again') or knitting the arrangements together with a plethora of rare musical performances on guitar, piano, Nico-inspired harmonium and Omnichord, and with the exception of the album's one cover version (Arthur Russell's 'Get Around To It' which Tracey's performance will make many listeners think its her own), the rich and sharp lyrics and melodies are all hers.
Tracey has humbly commented, "Good news is that so far we have the thumbs up from [Rough Trade label founder] Geoff Travis, and Ewan Pearson's Mum, so we must be doing something right...."