PopMatters home | short takes home | archivesPopMatters Music Short Takes
Tracy Shedd, Red (Teen Beat)
As I listened this singer-songwriter from Jacksonville's second album, I waited for hints at the distinction that got this record made, that led other people who hear lots of music into investing time and money to see these songs realized -- some gift with melody or some striking series of images or some display of naked emotional courage, or even some quiet mastery of powerful emotions. But none of that ever surfaced. Instead, just methodical, almost grudging songs turned out from a formula: discordant arpeggios set over bass runs that don't quite match tonally with the drums hanging back until the first chorus kicks in. Produced by Teen Beat honcho Mark Robinson, the album bears his hallmarks: insistent drums high in the mix; a round, pongy bass sound; crisp, airtight guitar; and a mathematically precise interlocking of pieces. Shedd, unfortunately seems like the missing piece. Shedd's voice, unremarkabe in a Natalie Imbruglia sort of way, seems to lack dexterity; she slogs through her words, holding notes for clumsy lengths while adding no particular emotional shading to them. She almost sounds bored, and the general absence of figuration doesn't help: the CD abounds with bald literal statements such as "I saw you walking down my street" or "I remember the first time I saw your face." The flatness of these, and Shedd's uncertain phrasing undermine what are often nimble backing tracks, which are both satisfyingly complex and lucid at the same time.