Tracey Thorn – It’s All True
In 2007 I was living in Bristol and had recently left Virgin Megastores for the indie pleasures of Fopp Records – not a place that was especially receptive to my pure pop leanings. The Frank Zappa section was always jam packed, but could you find a decent selection of Belinda Carlisle albums? No you could not. I’d snared the role of assistant manager by casually dropping a reference to G. Love and Special Sauce into my interview, despite never having heard them – I was fairly sure the youth conducting said interview hadn’t either, but he nodded sagely to indicate I had passed a certain coolness test.
The job turned out to be a constant battle between my commercial instincts and a slightly hipper-than-thou attitude that got right on my nerves. I’d more or less decided it wasn’t for me when the bailiffs arrived at the end of June to close us down.
But while I was there, feeling like a relic from a bygone age and remaining generally at odds with the musical leanings of the staff, there was one record that we all agreed was brilliant and played to death in-store: It’s All True by Tracey Thorn.
Described by Tracey as “pure early 80s New York dance pop”, It’s All True is a bit of a battleground between cold and hot: the crisp, almost sterile-sounding backing track keeps things nice and chilly, while Tracey’s voice generates a gentle, controlled warmth. The temptation here is to use the word “effortless’ to describe it, one I always used to think was a bit of mild insult – but having just finished Tracey’s excellent new book about singing, Naked at the Albert Hall, I now understand just how much effort actually goes into an effortless vocal: an awful lot. The end result is, of course, just right.
Back in the shop, we came to It’s All True from very different standpoints – for me, as a long-time Everything But the Girl listener, it was a high watermark in a career already filled with them. For everyone else, it was simply a very cool record by a lady they were only dimly aware of from Missing and possibly Massive Attack (after all, we were in Bristol). EBTG had been in and out of fashion so many times by now that it was really refreshing to see people responding to a song purely because it was amazing. Preconceptions, as someone like Mika may well tell you, have ruined many a pop career.
By this point in Tracey’s, expectations of an actual hit were presumably pretty low on the agenda – so it was a pleasant surprise that It’s All True managed to sneak in at no.75, as well as hitting no.1 on Music Week‘s Cool Cuts countdown (a chart I’ve never really understood – I imagine it’s compiled out of the silent nods of approval from shadowy tastemakers).
Of even less significance is the fact that It’s All True also made it to no.1 in my own personal year end chart – no mean feat considering 2007 was the year of Call the Shots by Girls Aloud. To borrow a lyric from them, it really doesn’t phase me how you spend your time – just reserve a little now and again for this absolute pop gem.
Entered chart: 10/03/2007
Chart peak: 75
Weeks on chart: 1
Who could sing this today and have a hit? I’d love Rumer to have a go at this.