Tracey Thorn is one of those singers that for me is irresistible. Yes, I'd likely enjoy hearing her sing the phone book. I love her records with the post-punk Marine Girls, the melodic minimalism of her solo debut, "A Distant Shore," the many styles she undertook as half of Everything But the Girl, and her guest appearances with Massive Attack, Deep Dish, Adam F and the rest.
After taking a number of years off to raise her children, Thorn is back with "Out of the Woods," on Astralwerks Records. Like the last few EBTG records and her most recent collaborations, "Out of the Wood" is rooted in electronica and dance music. But Thorn can't shed her taste for melody and for sentimental, emotional lyrics penned in a traditional songwriting format. So, this is electronica for the electronica-ignorant crowd.
Recorded in seven cities with five producers, "Out of the Woods" could be a jumbled mess, but instead it's a remarkably coherent mix of melody, blips and bleeps, acoustic pianos and guitars, flutes, flugelhorns, cellos and violins.
It's dance-y and it's tender, but above all it's beautiful and, as always, Thorn's lyrics conjure up a youth spent in North London suburbia, the awakening of the senses with a move to the big city and the ups and downs of love.
Noticeably absent is Ben Watt, her partner in music and life and parenthood, who has worked in past years as a club DJ and remixer. This may be her first work -- not including guest appearances -- without him in more than 20 years. I hesitate to say we don't miss him, but Thorn makes such a moving, such an enjoyable record that most won't even likely check to see if he's listed in the credits.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.