American singer-songwriter Tracy Grammer came to attention in the late nineties as half of folk duo Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer. Following his death in 2002, Tracy continued to tour and gradually developed her own sound whilst remaining a champion of Dave Carter and their work together.
'Low Tide' marks Tracy's song writing debut and she says, "My entire musical foundation-classical, country, pop and folk-informs this recording. I feel like I found my voice-many of them actually-and told the truth".
Of the ten tracks here, eight are Tracey Grammer originals, one is a co write and the other is a cover of Kate Bush's 'Cloudbusting'. Co produced with long time accompanist Jim Henry, the album features stellar musical contributions from a talented cast that are, unfortunately, far too numerous to mention by name here.
Opening track 'Hole' fairly gallops in on a gloriously driven rhythm piece, which pushes things along without let up. Tracy's vocal rattles through as well and she has a great Americana-Folk voice sitting somewhere between a slightly less raspy Joan Osborne and the sweeter tones of Mary Chapin Carpenter. The ensemble playing is impressive and the whole song is given another layer of interest with the quirky little musical and vocal touches that lend a very modern production air which, to drop another reference point, put me in mind of the contemporary American artist LP. In fact, 'Hole' does pretty much everything you would want an album opener to do.
'Mercy' is a much more electric affair with great drums and sharp guitar that sounds almost funky in the fills whilst 'Forty-Niner' is a slower, more reflective tale of the gambling life boasting clever lyrics and a stand out vocal from Tracy.
'The Mark' is a darkly thumping number, full of biblical imagery and barely suppressed rage; a real Patti Smith circa 'Gung Ho' vibe I thought and a great song.
'Daffodil Days' shows the more poppy, lighter side of Tracy musically, although this belies the darker lyrics, whereas following track 'Were You Ever Here' is a bittersweet tale of loss, longing and heartbreak made even more moving by its understated simplicity and brevity - not a note, word or breath is wasted.
'Good Life' is slightly more up-tempo and country flavoured, but similarly moving, apparently a review of her Fathers mistakes and revelations told from the protagonists perspective whilst 'The Verdant Mile' is back to the off beat, shuffling gait of the album opener 'Hole' and is an odd little beauty.
Kate Bush's classic 'Cloudbursting' is given a fairly faithful rendition, vocally if not musically, and fits in with the overall feel here but adds nothing to either the original or this album, and is a bit of a missed opportunity I think. On an album of ten songs I would have preferred another original and if need be, pop this one on as a bonus track.
The sweet tones of 'Free' ends the album on suitably reflective but optimistic note, "Welcome, sweet contentment peace has found me, whatever comes will be okay, you know it will".
This really is a fine record. The songs are very strong, cleverly arranged and full of intriguing twists and turns, while the playing throughout is exceptional. Tracy's voice straddles the modern Country/ Folk/Americana inflected sound effortlessly and her delivery of the themes covered in her lyrics is never less than entirely convincing.
Factor in that several of the songs here are immediately catchy 'ear worms' and the rest all reward handsomely with repeated plays, 'Low Tide' is a perfectly balanced offering.
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