- Song: "Sing for You"
- Artist: Tracy Chapman
- CD: Our Bright Future
- Genre: Folk-Pop
courtesy of Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman still mixes low-key message songs with the relentlessly pleasant likes of "Sing for You."
Tracy Chapman has always fit uneasily into the pop-music marketplace. Now 20 years removed from her self-titled debut — and her simultaneous emergence as a critically adored Artist of Consequence — she's produced hits intermittently (1995's "Give Me One Reason"), yet never fit comfortably into a single genre. After her left-field debut hit "Fast Car" cast her as a socially conscious chronicler of underdogs' yearnings, she's toggled between earnest folk and easy-going blues-pop, while remaining somewhat remote as a personality.
Now on her eighth studio album, Chapman seems to have landed on some comfortable middle ground: Our Bright Future mixes low-key message songs with the relentlessly pleasant likes of "Sing for You." A slice of soothing nostalgia, complete with a "doo-doo-doo" chorus, the latter track exudes a sort of weary innocence, as Chapman ruminates fondly on "a time when I used to sing for you."
As ingratiatingly simple as "Sing for You" is, her intentions remain surprisingly mysterious throughout: Chapman could be a mother pining for the simplicity of raising a young child, a lover whose relationship used to be less complicated, or even, to get psychoanalytical about it, a pop singer who faced less pressure when she performed in coffeehouses. Regardless of its message, it's a lovely return for a singer whose calmly smoky voice remains welcome in any era.
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This story originally ran on Oct. 16, 2008.