For nearly two decades, Tracy Chapman has been a truly individual voice on the modern musical landscape, charting and artistic path that owes nothing to trend and fashion, and everything to personal spirit, intelligence, and integrity. An eloquent teller of stories that are at once deeply intimate and yet speak to universal human concerns and a wider social conscience, Chapman has created a body of work that has been as consistently compelling as it is honest and uncompromising.
Tracy Chapman's seventh studio album, Where You Live
, is not only a reflection of the issues concerning her own domicile but of the wider tribalist rancourings--class, race, religion and the economic divide--which fracture human accord. She's no ribbons and bows girl. Her spiritual (at least in a humanist sense) folk muse has often appeared hostile to window-dressing and affection (didn't Boyzone really miss the point by a mile with "Baby Can I Hold You"?) and the naked but steely-resolved material on "Where I Live" requires a commitment from the listener to eek out the essence.
There's the terrifying personal assault tale of "3000 Miles" ("Soft skin against the cold concrete...i'll die here soon if i don't leave") and on a less individual footing the disgusted, martial-booted "America", like some nightmarish resurrection of Bob Dylan's "115th Dream" for the neo-conservative generation. Equally blessed are "Change" (surely Chapman's most mainstream-friendly venture since "Fast Car") and the ruefully blue "Don't Dwell", a timid unsentimental shiver of a warmer past. --Kevin Maidment