Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sarah Tracey - Tell No One Review

Sarah Tracey’s new album Tell No One is a jazz album.  However, it’s so much more than that. Sarah Tracey has moved away from the typical Jazz Lounge sound and Tell No One represents a significant growth in her abilities.

Tell No One uses the theme of secret agents to explore the idea of our hidden selves.  That we have an everyday face we show the world, but in anonymity, we allow a different side to emerge.

We`re immediately introduced to this theme in the first song “Bloom in the Dark”.  “Here in this room, I become someone else. Here in the dark, I reveal my true self. ... Close your eyes, let the sound of my voice drown your fear. ... We are like vines that bloom in the dark, but hide from the light of day.”

Bloom in the Dark by sarahtraceymusic

The theme of secret agents allows her to try on different musical personalities as well.  Both explicitly in songs like “Strange Men, Strange Hotel Rooms” and “Tell No One” which utilize a John Barry-esque (James Bond composer) sound but also in terms of vastly different sounds.

“Moving Target” for example is New Orleans R&B with its 12 Bar Blues Structure and Rumba groove expounded by the brass and rhythm section.

Moving Target by sarahtraceymusic

“Camera” uses Latin rhythms to mirror the abandon shown by the lead character during a night of drunken cheesecake photography.

Camera by sarahtraceymusic

The title track “Tell No One” is the song most musically influenced by John Barry, the horns playing a subtle variation of the James Bond theme underneath.

Tell No One by sarahtraceymusic

In the middle of the album, Sarah Tracey does something audacious.  She recontextualizes four of the five songs on her EP Cards on the Table.

This is the original version of “I Want To” which is done in Torch style.

I Want to by sarahtraceymusic

Here is the album version of “I Want To” which speeds the song up slightly and accentuates the Accordion.  The result is that it sounds more like a Chanson Française.

I Want To by sarahtraceymusic

Unfortunately, with the first few listens of Tell No One you may be reminded of Portishead. I must admit that I did go back and listen to their first two albums as comparison.  This is a function of both artists using John Barry as an inspiration. Ultimately, the comparison doesn’t hold as Sarah Tracey and Portishead are doing different things.

One of the things that has been interesting in 2011 has been the quality and growth shown in sophomore albums.  From Late July’s Hospital Quiet to Adele’s 21 to Sarah Tracey’s Tell No One (even though it is her first full length, it builds on her EP Cards on the Table).  Sarah Tracey’s Tell No One is highly recommended. Tell No One can be purchased in iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/tell-no-one/id456810735.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of Tell No One and access to an online EPK for review purposes. 

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