Solo: Songs and Collaborations – 1982-2015
That this doesn’t have, um, Everything FROM The Girl speaks more to the sheer amount of quality material rather than any failings of this compilation. Here Tracey Thorn’s sporadic solo career – and her guest spots and collaborations – are combined across a double disc. When taken alongside the very best of her Everything But The Girl material it’s an extraordinary, if understated career/statement.
This includes material up to the recent soundtrack for The Falling and right back to her debut solo album. There are no strange bedfellows here, it all makes sense and if it doesn’t all (quite) shine then it’s all (at the very least) interesting.
So there’s Protection with Massive Attack, of course. Less obviously, but every bit as magical, there’s Overture with The Unbending Trees and the voice that captivated on the dance-pop from Everything But The Girl sounds just as gently thrilling singing here on it own or with The Style Council, Hot Chip or Robert Wyatt, atop the slightly jagged chording of A Distant Shore’s demo-esque feel or the perfect piano balladry on opening cut Oh, The Divorces (from 2010’s Love and Its Opposite) and the sparse, haunting bedsit-meets-baroque soundtrack EP for The Alling.
You could always add one or two other songs you wanted to hear, you could hope for a combination of the best songs here with EBTG highlights, you could assume that the reason this is called “Solo” is to avoid the pre-solo/EBTG material from The Marine Girls. But you could barely have any real complaints around what is here, a generous serving of beautifully written pop songs, that achingly wonderful voice, the emotional resonance of the tunes and the performances – it seems to hang in a bubble, suspended high above trends and fashions and fads, or at least just to the left; impervious to all, tagging in on light jazz and dramatic pop, a wee scrape up against a type of folk or folksy or folk-ish-ness, its own type of torch-balladry, its own set of genres supporting this very special conjuring.