Tracey ThornOut of the Woods
Essential: "It's All True"
Tracey Thorn, the Everything But the Girl front woman, has taken a break from motherhood and Ben Watt, her partner in music and life, for this almost-great solo effort. Perhaps measuring how life has changed since her career took off 25 years ago, "Out of the Woods" finds Thorn fondly looking back to the 1980s. The best tracks here blend Thorn's hypnotic, melancholy voice with infectious dance-floor grooves that recall the synth-y bass lines and clacky percussion of vintage Depeche Mode. "This is just my heart laid bare/ For anyone that might care," she sings on the shimmering first single, "It's All True." On "Hands Up to the Ceiling," Thorn remembers days of carefree youth, where posters of Robert Doisneau's "Kiss" and Terry Hall lined the walls and sounds of Siouxsie Sioux and Edwyn Collins filled the air. Even "Raise the Roof" sounds like a lost Eurythmics nugget. But too many bleak ballads about lost love and runaways ("Here It Comes Again," "A - Z," "Nowhere Near") bring down the fun, while a loving cover of the late disco pioneer Arthur Russell's snaky "Get Around to It" falls a bit short. [Christina Pazzanese]