Music Matters Review

Tracy Grammer—Low Tide
2018, Tracy Grammer Music
Low Tide, things have been taken out to sea, never to return, other things uncovered under the sky, and the promised return of a teeming flood—this is the shore that Tracy Grammer looks out from. After years of curating and completing her duo work with her late parter, Dave Carter, she has produced an album of mostly her own songs, finding her own voice and aural space. The work with Carter was somewhat wryly referred to as “post-modern, mythic, American folk music,” and was the product of soaring genius. Where to go from there? The love of language and finely crafted songs is still central to Grammer’s work, but she now sings her own story and observations. The album opens with “Hole,”, a song with some very Dave Carterish touches (such as the use of the word “shatterlings”), but also a bold new sound, attitude and personal viewpoint. Romantic disappointment is the theme of “Daffodil Days” and “Were You Ever Here.” “Good Life” is a song from the point of view of her father who passed away in 2013. He reviews his life as its end approaches, acknowledging mistakes and lessons learned, still summing it up as a good life, enjoying a peach, “with the juice from that fruit dripping all down my face/ there is only this moment, only this place.” The cover of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting” will surely get stuck in you head with its string-laden arrangement and catchy chorus. The song is even more interesting upon discovering that it is based on Peter Reich's 1973 memoir, A Book of Dreams. The new recording of “The Verdant Mile,” a song that totters between despair and acceptance of her partner’s tragic passing, illuminates Grammer’s personal and artistic journey. Previously recorded for The Verdant Mile EP, the song has undergone a complete makeover. The original featured an uptempo beat and urgently emotionally vocals in an acoustic arrangement without drums. This version features a marching drumbeat complete with glockenspiel, a complex, moody arrangement and stylized vocals. Once one gets over the fact that Tracy has altered a song that was a part of the healing process for Dave Carter’s many fans, one can clearly see and appreciate that she is no longer looking at her grief from the inside. That point is more specifically made in the last song, “Free,” the last lines of which state, “whatever comes will be okay/  you know it will.” Low Tide is more than “okay,” with engaging songs beautifully sung and arranged. The rising tide is eagerly awaited! —Michael Devlin