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Everything But the Girl



UPC: 5060516095865

Format: LP

Regular price $31.95
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The debut effort by multi-instrumentalist Ben Watt and vocalist and songwriter Tracey Thorn took the alterna-pop world by surprise in 1985. And rightfully so. Watt's lush chamber orchestra jazzscapes, full of Brazilian bossa nova structures and airy horn charts, combined with Thorn's throaty alto singing her generation's version of the torch song, was a sure attraction for fans of sophisticated pop and vocal jazz. Featuring 12 tracks, the album has deeply influenced popular song structures since that time; this is evidenced in the work of more R&B-oriented acts such as Swing Out Sister and Tuck and Patti. The set opens with "Each and Everyone," a slow samba-flavored pop song. The song comes from the broken side of love, with Thorn entreating from the heart: "You try to show me heaven but then close the door...Being kind is just a way to keep me under your thumb/And I can cry because that's something we've always done." A trumpet fills her lines and makes them glide above Watt's Latin mix. Elsewhere, the folk bossa of "Fascination" is all the architecture Thorn needs to sink deep into her protagonist's brokenness. Guitars chime and stagger one another, slipping and sliding just above the bassline, and vanish into thin air. On "I Must Confess," a riff similar to "The Girl From Ipanema" locates Thorn next to a deep ringing upright bass and Watt's glissando guitar, played Charlie Byrd-style, before Nigel Nash punctures Thorn's vocal with a velvety tenor solo. Once again, the notion of loss, memory, and the resolve of the left half of a relationship to go on, carrying regret but not remorse, is absolutely breathtaking. Thorn continually meditated on broken relationships here, and that extended tome, which echoes through every song on the record, seems to have resonated with everyone who heard it. The set closes with Watt's vocal on "Soft Touch," a folksy pop song, illustrated with guitars, a fretless bass, and piano, that sounds like something from Supertramp in their better moments -- and no, that's not a bad thing. His voice -- while not nearly as dramatic as Thorn's -- is wonderfully expressive, and his lyrics extend the feeling of Eden to its final whisper. This set proved itself to be an auspicious debut that testified to the beginning of a long and creatively rewarding partnership that has endured. ~ Thom Jurek