Reviews and HTML © Russell W Elliot 2001
Images © Cloud Traces BMI 1995
Formatted for 800 x 600 or larger windows
Originally reviewed: 22 August 1998
Last updated: 27 December 2001
click on image to visit the Glass Hammer website
This is one of the first three reviews published by Musical Discoveries, yet the album is as tremendous in this latest revision as it was over three years ago when initially reviewed here.
A brief description in a locally-produced progressive rock catalog by Compact Disc Services (Dundee, Scotland) piqued our interest in Tracy Cloud's 1995 album Love Changes album earlier this summer. An out-of-stock status led us to begin listening instead to the American progressive rock band Glass Hammer that Tracy has worked with. They are a truly outstanding band with male vocal leads and appear influenced by the progressive sounds of the 70s and 80s. The Glass Hammer album Chronomotree (2000) was reviewed and Michelle Young's work has also been reviewed at Musical Discoveries
Although Tracy's backing vocals on Glass Hammer's Perelandra and On To Evermore play a part, we really had no idea what to expect from her Love Changes album over and above what CD Services wrote until we finally heard it. Note that the other backing vocalist on Perelandra is the exceptional featured artist Michelle Young. You can read about her very highly rated projects m at this website as well.
There are many aspects that set Love Changes well above the average female vocal-fronted progressive album. Given our must listen rating within only two days of first playing, it's worth a long journey and must be heard to fully appreciate. This is an album that can be played over and over without ever getting tired of it. Fans of progressive, folk, and the "Enya-related" artists will all enjoy this album.
With a wide range of musical talents, Tracy has an absolutely outstanding voice -- ideally suited for the progressive genre -- and she has the rare ability to adapt it to a wide variety of styles across the different tracks that pulls the whole album together. She demonstrates a vast vocal range, sharing heartfelt emotion to perfectly illustrate the lyrics.
A vast array of Glass Hammer and other artists add to the Love Changes musical foundation but the songs are written and integrated by Tracy herself who also contributes acoustic guitar and keyboards to the stunning instrumental arrangements. The album contains twelve tracks ranging from three to almost five minutes. And although there are no epic-length masterworks that some believe have to exist on such an album, the individual tracks work very well together to give the album an overall progressive feel. Styles range from acoustic folky instrumentals with flutes, piano or acoustic guitar to those with rumbling bass, screaming electric guitar and swirling keyboards.
The "progressiveness" of the album is produced by varying the styles of tracks varying from one to the next. The ballad "Vision" is an example of Tracy's vocal work carrying a song over a simple piano accompaniment. The impressive "Long Dark Night" follows in a completely different style beginning with a soaring electric guitar introduction and a much stronger and penetrating vocal part. This is a song to be reckoned with and one you'll want to play loud. The track "Don't Think Of Me" then follows returning to a very folky style with Tracy and Jennifer Greene's backing vocals over a simple acoustic guitar backdrop. The contrast between these three songs is just a small example of how the range of styles found within the album work very well. The closing track "Free" even has a "country" sound to it.
Perhaps it is a bit unfair to single out just one of the Glass Hammer artists, but Fred Schendel's piano work througout the album is tremendous and very reminscent of Renaissance's John Tout at times.
The lyrics to each song tell emotive stories and share inner feelings. The liner notes fully reproduce them in paragraph, story-telling, style and provide a nice touch to the overall presentation of the album. Tracy's voice adapts perfectly to each track and carries the message home. Vocally with a style at times not far from Kate Bush but quite unique in her own right, she can be ever so sweet and soft, but she can equally be quite evocative and belt out the vocals equally well. The vocal dynamics in the album are tremendous and can not be done justice in words; the album just has to be heard.
We understand that Tracy is writing a second album and hope to be advised of a release date sometime soon.Tracy Cloud's Love Changes is available from Sound Resources. They can also be reached via snail mail at:
PO Box 16046
Chattanooga, TN 37416
The album remains generally available through Sound Resources as this update is posted. We hope you'll give it a try and enjoy the album as much as we do.
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