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Albums Reviews

Tracy Chapman

Our Bright Future
Three Stars
EMI Virgin

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Jan 19, 2009

With her eighth studio album, Tracy Chapman has long surpassed the need to prove her mettle as a songwriter to audiences, let alone herself. It’s just an alternate language she has come to master so well that the expression of music becomes second nature to her. Chapman is one of the sincerest voices in the industry with the truth always at the tip of her tongue. Our Bright Future streams that honesty once again; she effortlessly caresses lilting strings of words with her vocal tremor. The lone guitar and her humdrum melodies on this one forge an amiable camaraderie but don’t deliver any memorable refrains which her back catalogue was rife on. The songs on Our Bright Future don’t make much distinction between the verses and refrain melodically, maintaining a character of unassuming fluidity. Yes, it is highly probable that once you stop spinning this disc, you won’t be caught humming those tunes. The not-very-experimental singer sticks to her forte ”“ her voice and a rickety old guitar. Chapman varnishes her folk melodies with strokes of twang-y blues lines on the guitar and shivering tremolo picks on the mandolin. Her purview on socially poignant issues is more universal than specific; with no direct allusions she prefers to speak of unity, peace, and constructing the human conscience on these principles ”“ which is brought out on songs such as ‘Our Bright Future’ and ‘Something to See.’ So you wont have her ramming in the satire as she did on songs like ‘Sub City’ ”“ “Please give the president my honest regards/For disregarding me” ”“ and ‘Bang Bang Bang,’ which expressed her concerns on the prevalent gun culture. The songwriting mostly spirals around love and relationships, but refrains from embracing binding clichés attempted on these themes. Through ‘Thinking of You’ (“I used to think/Galileo would agree/that the world was round/and you’d come round to me”¦you’re nowhere in sight/the world must be flat/The Babylonians were right”) and ‘I Did it All’ (“Lived my twenties in hase/Smoked second-hand in crowded bars/With the A-list of B-List movie stars”) the poetic enchantress woos with words. Insulated from the musicology that makes cash registers ring today, Chapman writes from within her own nucleus which invites little from the outside.

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