Tracy Chapman, Crossroads (1989)
I liked the first four Tracy Chapman albums. I really liked (and still like) that debut album – as I’ve already told you. But hot on its heels was this, Crossroads. I first bought the tape – and maybe I even liked this album more. It never bruised the charts like that first album – in that sense it feels more pure. Good as the songs on that first album are they do feel like a marketing exercise was played on them; someone took a punt – sure – but they still took songs that had been written ten years earlier and tidied them up. Gave a touch of pop to folk. Here it’s a Sunday afternoon sound. But it’s nice. And yes, that really is the right word for it. Teachers used to say that nice was an awful word to use in writing. I disagree – often it’s the very correct word to use. Recently, probably on the back of rediscovering the first album, I rediscovered this. Some gorgeous, subtle playing – Neil Young’s harmonica is unmistakable. His piano playing too. And so many session greats – but there’s a warmth and depth to it; you actually feel like they cared about making this great, playing for the songs (as well as for the money). I played Bridges recently – it was a nice song to play out in a bar; I figured that maybe one or two people had their own moment remembering that they had forgotten to keep up with Tracy Chapman; remembering that they had forgotten to at least go back to those first couple of albums anyway.
Sample Track: All That You Have Is Your Soul
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