Tracey Thorn surprises herself with pop album

Sun Feb 25, 2007 6:49pm EST

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NEW YORK (Billboard) - It's been a hot minute since Everything but the Girl's last studio album (1999's "Temperamental") and an even hotter minute since Girl frontwoman Tracey Thorn's solo debut (1982's mini-album "A Distant Shore"). In the past few years, Thorn has been featured on tracks from Massive Attack and Deep Dish, but it never has been enough to truly satisfy hardcore fans.

Two years ago, after a long break from recording, Thorn worked with German duo Tiefschwarz ("Damage"), an experience that got her thinking about the possibility of a new solo album. The mother of three -- and wife of her Everything but the Girl partner, DJ/producer/label owner Ben Watt -- decided to give it a go.

On March 20, Astralwerks issues Thorn's sophomore solo album, "Out of the Woods." The collection of songs is evenly split between acoustic ("Hands up to the Ceiling") and dance/electronic (lead single "It's All True"). Throughout, a pop sensibility -- with some winks and nods to the '80s -- reigns supreme.

Q: How did this collection of songs change and evolve during the recording process?

A: When I started this album, I was thinking, "Well, alright, I want to make a quirky little record, a little bit acoustic, a little bit dance." I also thought I was going to do a lot of covers, because I hadn't written anything in a long time. But once I started, I found myself writing more songs and collaborating with people. When the record was finished, I was quite startled. I thought, "Wow, I made a pop record without really meaning to."

Q: Do you believe your family life has given you a new perspective with regard to making music?

A: Yeah. Maybe it's because my time is a bit more scarce and more precious. I'm very aware of how incredibly lucky and fortunate I am to be able to do this, to be able to go back and make music.

Q: Do you have any personal expectations for "Out of the Woods?"

A: I don't, really. If I was being more ambitious about it and was planning to tour -- which I'm not -- and heavily promote it, then I think, tentatively, I have a record here that could be quite commercial and could do well. I'm doing what I can, but I'm not going to be holding this record's hand as much as I might have in the past. It's going to have to cross the road by itself.

Q: There seems to be one element missing from the album: Ben Watt. What gives?

A: There is an enormous amount of pressure when you live and work together. We did that for a lot of years, and we made it work. Now, we have this successful and wonderful balance that works very well. Plus, with this record, I felt I had something to prove to myself, that I needed to assert myself. For me, the danger of working with Ben was that he hadn't had a break from music. I think he might have taken the idea of the record and run with it, and I would have been in the slow lane trying to catch up.

Q: Are there any conversations regarding a new Everything but the Girl album?

A: Yeah, we talk about such things. But I know it won't happen until we have a really strong idea of what we want to do. We could do it tomorrow, really, but we'd need a reason.

Reuters/Billboard

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