November 17, 2003

Tracy Shedd "Red"

Red, Tracy Shedd's second album, is a surprisingly wonderful little album. Though her previous album, Blue, was a slice of sad-eyed folk songs, Red is a bit of a different record. Where the songs on Blue were spartian and threadbare, there's a warmth to the songs on Red that cannot be denied. Instead of making songs that were, ahem, blue, her latest collection of songs are not necessarily any happier than her first set, but there's a warmth to them that was missing the first time around.

Red's newfound warmth has a lot to do with her accompaniment. Backed up by a pretty rocking duo of Cash Carter (great name!) and husband Richard Dudley, this trio makes a racket that's very much reminsicent of another great, famous Teenbeat trio--Unrest. (It doesn't hurt that Unrest mastermind Mark Robinson produced Red, either.) Indeed, the jingle-jangle nature of Red is less indebted to the folk world than it is to the sounds of mid-eighties to early-ninties indiepop.

If you get the feeling Red sounds like a culmulation of all the things that defined Teenbeat Records, you're not alone. It would be easy to trainspot the influences and nuances of her labelmates, but that would be too easy. After all, it's never been a big secret that Robinson's partial to bands whose sounds are indebted to the label; you could say that Aden, True Love Always and the various post-Versus projects owe a certain debt to the label 'sound', and if such is the case, then yes, Shedd is simply following suit and is keeping the 'Teenbeat Sound' alive.

But might I add that such a sound is not a bad thing? From the sad-eyed "End of Spring" to the hopeful pop of "I Wish We Were Still Friends" and "Somersault," Red is never less than lovely and charming. The only flaw with this, though, is that occasionally the album tends to get a bit of a one-sided sound that's unavoidable. Still, I'm not suggesting that you write Red off; instead, you should simply approach it as it is meant to be approached--a great little album of indie-pop folk rock that never once lets its guard down.

--Joseph Kyle

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