First Appeared in The Music Box, April 1998, Volume 5, #4
Written by John Metzger
The appropriately titled New Beginning provides a fresh start for Tracy Chapman, who has struggled to capture the public's attention since 1988, the year of her self-titled debut recording and hit single Fast Car. While that album was an excellent introduction to Chapman's music, New Beginning blows it away. In short, Chapman's new collection retains much of the charm of her debut — folk- and blues-infused stories with political and social messages — but now her delivery is more confident, mature, and passionate. She no longer seems so shy and timid in speaking out on a variety of issues and topics, and each song is wholly captivating. Every lyrical twist and every musical nuance is carefully scripted in order to invoke an overwhelming emotional response from the listener, but rather than be a completely depressing affair, Chapman manages to fill her material with a lot of hope and promise.
Throughout New Beginning, Chapman plays acoustic and electric guitar as well as organ, and all of it is perfectly matched to her splendid and beautiful vocals. She's also assembled an outstanding group of musicians to back her up, including Adam Levy (whose electric guitar playing is magical) and Andy Stoller (whose bass and tamboura accompaniments seem to slice through the music at just the right moments). It's hard to pick a favorite song from this outing, so do yourself a favor and give this one a listen.
New Beginning is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1998 The Music Box