Tracy Shedd comes off as a more riveting singer on her fourth album than on previous ones, and it seems as much about the arrangements and production as about her singing, there being more moments in the songs where she really lets go. The smoke references in the title fit the tone, which is anxious and moody, both created by careful placement of voice and instruments, like lingering guitars that eventually rush forward dramatically. When that happens the album feels very ‘90s college radio, though Shedd’s presence in the album overall is fresher, more in the moment. Loneliness, or at least the absence of someone, is a big theme, though never is there wallowing. After all, the first song’s chorus is, “it’s never too late to fight for what you want.” Still, the last lyric on the LP, sung with noisy guitars hovering, is, “it’s not home without you here.”
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// Notes from the Road
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