Tracey Thorn Embraces Middle Age And Its Concerns On Terrific New Solo Album

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Tracey Thorn Love And Its Opposite (Merge)

Facing middle age is a daunting enough task, but making sense of it as a musical artist is trickier still. To even attempt as much is rare, especially when it's so much easier to hit the nostalgia circuit to earn a living on one's back catalog.

Erstwhile Everything But The Girl singer Tracey Thorn not only makes the attempt, but succeeds admirably on her new solo effort Love And Its Opposite. She does so with lyrics that showcase a sharp eye for detail, married to a gift for melody which has always been her strong suit.

"Hormones" is a striking missive of understanding from aging mother to pubescent daughter: "Yours are just kicking in, mine are just checking out / You're at the beginning of this tunnel, and I'm just comin' out / And either way these days we're not as in control as we think." More eloquence on the topic ensues.

She laments the break-up of married couples and examines her own relationship in "Oh, The Divorces!" and casts a knowing eye over the supposedly-greener grass on the other side of the equation in "Singles Bar." Fear of commitment is the theme of "Long White Dress" and family ghosts haunt "Kentish Town."

Certainly, her relationship with Everything But The Girl partner Ben Watt informs the proceedings and why wouldn't it? The couple have been together since 1982, have three children and married last year.

As it should, Thorn's warm, inviting voice takes center stage on the album, gliding over music ranging from stately waltzes to sprightly pop.

We should all age so gracefully. Here's hoping Thorn continues to do so in music and in life.

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