Chapman's last album, Let it Rain (2003) was typically Tracy Chapman - dark in places. But on first listen it had solid pop appeal. Though some say the hit "You're the One" was a song about a woman in a destructive relationship, it skipped and bounced along and got stuck in your head, just like "Fast Car", "Baby Can I hold You" and "Give me one reason" did before it.
Where You Live slows down the pace, and dims the lights for some seriously intimate singer-songwriter stuff.
Lyrically, it's reflective, and quietly moral. The new sound is basic, but never sparse, with each scattered brush or doof of a drum or acoustic guitar string resonating purposefully against the simple mix. Newly adopted co-producer Tchad Blake's hand shows in this finely crafted, perfectly balanced sound.
Chapman's vocal tones, which in the past had a tendency to wear out even the most devoted ears after a few songs, are intimate, and hushed like words in a cool cave.
Where You Live is simple and liquid, and so consistent that, until you hear this album on headphones, or an excellent sound system, it appears somewhat featureless. But the mellow plaintive sound succeeds so much better than the more upbeat and polemic approaches taken on protest song "America", with its faux Irish arrangements, silly melody, and pushy lyrics. Agree politically with her all you like, but Chapman will be preaching to her converted core audience, and this crude complaint track nearly spoils what was an otherwise eerily perfect album.
"Change" and "Never Yours" will get some radio play, but there's no song catchy enough to really disturb the warm flow of Chapman's sincere words.
- Jean BarkerWHAT OTHER CRITICS SAID"...the album operates entirely as a measured course and will enlighten those who will choose to fall into its simple allure, rather than acting as a hook for new listeners."- Gregory McIntosch for allmusic.com
"...sad-edged tales of squalid, brutalised neighbourhoods, tracks with religious overtones and (of course) unhappy love songs, such as the pained and personal Never Yours. She's still on fine, if depressing form."- Robin Densilow for The Guardian
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