Taking on the day to day reality of the forty-something set — from failing relationships to hormonal fluctuations — doesn’t exactly sound like a probable theme for a hit record. Yet that is exactly the premise that Everything but the Girl’s Tracey Thorn is relying on for her third solo outing, Love and Its Opposite. “It’s a record about the person I am now and the people around me,” says Thorn, ”about real life after forty.”
Love and Its Opposite opens with Thorn lamenting the demise of the marriages surrounding her on ”Oh, the Divorces!” Ironically, Thorn herself is a newlywed having married her longtime partner, Ben Watt in 2009. The track has the sort of intensely personal, intimate production that sounds as if the artist is sitting in the room, whispering to you. It’s this immediate connection that grounds the record as it blooms with the mid-tempo ”Long White Dress,” picking up the mood musically, while maintaining its heavy theme.
Ranging from desperate to insightful, the record addresses the truth behind the glammed up experience television and movies would have you believe. According to the media the world is full of cougars oozing with self-confidence; the reality is more akin to the sad state of affairs that Tracy Thorn addresses in ”Singles Bar.” Exposing the doubt behind the bravado, Thorn’s words must hit home with lines like: ”can you guess my age in this light, who’ll be taking me home tonight,” and ”can you guess my age in these jeans, can you tell me what any of this means?”
Fans of EbtG will find plenty here to connect to as well. “Why Does the Wind?” bears the mark of every good EbtG track, with its driving — yet not quite danceable — beat and arpeggiated synths swirling under Thorn’s smoky vocal. Her delivery is beautiful — as always — but as Mr. Giles put it: ”it’s almost as though she’s finally earned her voice.” Forty, it would seem, is treating Thorn well. (2010 Merge Records)