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Tinsel and Lights
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Tracey has a long and distinguished career, not only solo but also with Everything but the girl, although this is only the second album of her music that I've ever bought after Idlewild. (I must put that right someday.) I was surprised to learn about this album, but I expected it would be good, especially once I saw the track listing, which includes just one obvious classic, that being Have yourself a merry little Christmas. On the evidence of that track, if Tracey had filled the entire album, it would still have been a brilliant album (which I might have bought anyway), but I'm glad that she didn't do that. I love those classic songs, but I have plenty of versions of them already,

Apart from Have yourself a merry little Christmas, two of the other songs are very familiar to me, although neither was originally meant to be a Christmas song. Hard candy Christmas, written by Carol Hall for Dolly Parton to sing in The Best Little Chickenhouse in Texas. The song title is metaphorical; the song is not about Christmas, but that word being in the title is enough for it to be regarded as a Christmas song. Tracey's version is mellower than Dolly's version, and the slower tempo works well. Joni Mitchell's River is about a broken relationship around Christmas time. It's really about the feeling of loss rather than Christmas, but the song seems to be well on the way to becoming a Christmas standard.

The other tracks feature songs written by people who you might recognize, depending on what music you're into. Randy Newman is the most famous of them; he wrote Snow, which I might have heard somewhere. Among the other writers are Ron Sexsmith (Maybe this Christmas), Jack White (In the cold, cold night) and Sufjan Stevens (Sister Winter).

Tracey wrote two new songs, these being Joy (the opening track) and Tinsel and lights (the title track). The booklet provides the lyrics for these two, but not for the other songs. The title track is an uplifting song about a New York Christmas. At the time Tracey recorded the album in 2012, none of us could have imagined what misfortune would hit New York later that year, so this song has an unintended poignancy

For those who enjoy mellow Christmas music avoiding most of the obvious songs, this may be just what you`re looking for. Merry Christmas everybody, especially New Yorkers....
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
It's finaly here, and I am so happy that she did it. Tracy has the most heavenly and underrated voices from the last few decades. Heartfelt and just the music to get you in the mood for the season. C'mon, she is even singing a Dolly Parton song, amazing.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
And it hasn't changed! I have enjoyed how her music has evolved over the years and this album is a very refreshing collection of holiday songs. Not only does it have the traditional warm and fuzzy bits, it's got covers of Joni Mitchell and Dolly Parton! Kinda heartbreaking but nevertheless beautiful!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 21, 2012
I was not familiar with Tracey Thorn. I bought this album on a whim. It was a good whim.

This record is the perfect antidote when you are going crazy from hyperactive, twinkly, jingly Christmas music. It's like taking a short vacation to a quiet place. Tracey's voice is warm and soothing, the arrangements are understated and perfect. I particularly like the instrumentation on River. Someone decided a few years ago that this was a Christmas song, and now everyone has it on their holiday album. It's not an easy song to sing, and some artists fail to connect with the emotion of the song. Thorn hits just the right note of ruefulness, and the simple French horns in the background are poignant.

The song choices are uniformly excellent. Most of the songs are not well known, although they have been recorded by other artists. The two original compositions, Joy and the title track, are little gems. Really, I am so thrilled with this album and so excited to discover Tracey Thorn's other music. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2012
If you are interested in the music of Tracey Thorn, then I am preaching to the choir. She has an instantly recognizable voice not unlike that of Karen Carpenter's. Both share an evocative mood which conjures up a certain sadness which suits their material so well. Some of the tracks involve her longtime partner Ben Watt and reminds me of some of EBTG's finest works, notably "Idlewild" which remains my favorite album by the group. The closest example is "Hard Candy Christmas" which I had never remember hearing but my wife reminded me that the song is from the musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas". This album is not a typical XMAS album and if you want that, then there are plenty of artists who have done the traditional Holiday album thing.
What you have here is a peerless vocalist with a fine choice of disparate songs arranged expertly with long term collaborators bringing back the early EBTG sound. If you liked Sarah McLachlan's XMAS album, "Wintersong" from a few years ago, then you know what kind of mood this album evokes. In short, you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2013
Tracey says...I'll run and you follow me. (smile)
This is not so much Christmas songs but songs that speak to emotions that may come and find us at Christmas time. Let's be honest...do you remember that first Christmas you stayed alone in your apartment and didn't go home? Maybe you were on campus. Maybe working, or too broke to make the flight. What about the year that the Christmas feeling never found it's way into your heart and you staggered through the holiday like something precious had left you forever. ummm...maybe breaking up two weeks before the 25th and you sit staring at that bracelet you bought for the one you thought would always be in your life. Tracey...God she's sooooo on point, I cried on "Sister Winter" half way through when those jaggling guitars took me back to a snowy college town December 25 years ago. But it's Christmas time, a hopeful time. I summon the strength to push back the years like Mrs. Thorn recommends and in the face on darkness find a way to throw out JOY.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2013
I loved some of the songs on the disc, but others I did not like much. Over all, I thought her selection only fair. Since that's a subjective thing, and I really like her voice, I'm still glad I got the disc. Also I love Christmas music, and collect unusual discs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2013
Heard Ms. Thorn interviewed on NPR, liked the cut they played, liked her, so I bought a couple of CDs. Sheesh! She's very talented, but these songs are grim-city. It's Christmas and I'm all alone because you left me and I know I'll never be happy again. Like that. But beautifully sung with great arrangements.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2012
tinsel and lights is one of those rare Christmas albums that you can enjoy any time of year, not just Christmas. A few covers and some originals, wonderful voice and phrasing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl was one of the classier voices to emerge from British pop music of the 1980s. It took just one NPR feature to get me to add her gorgeous new CD release "Tinsel and Lights" to my small Christmas music collection. There are two compelling original songs -- "Joy" and "Tinsel and Lights." Artists covered include Randy Newman, Joni Mitchell, Sufjan Stevens, and Dolly Parton. The one traditional tune -- "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" -- gets a heartfelt rendering. Besides the original tunes, favorites include Jack White's softly driving "In the Cold Cold Night," which gives an uptempo respite, and "Taking Down the Tree," which has a dreamy psychedelic afterglow. The arrangements are spot-on. A perfect disk for an overcast December morning.
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