Galway, Ireland’s Tracy Bruen and her band of merry melody makers is a deceptive bunch. This deception begins with the front cover of her latest EP Play Outside the Lines on which a cartoon drawing of the five-piece Irish folksters stand on a stage with big smiles drawn across their faces.
The deception continues in the happy-go-lucky sounds of the bands traditional Irish folk music, which includes piano, ukulele, double bass, fiddle and acoustic guitar. Given this information one would think that Play Outside the Lines would be a fun and happy folk album but hiding beneath all this happiness are Bruen’s often dark lyrics, in the tradition of many of her musical forebears. The Irish, given their catastrophic history, know what pain and suffering feels like as much as any culture, which has a history of persecution.
Describing social and political suffering is not what Tracy Bruen is after on Play Outside the Lines, but rather a more universal suffering known to almost everyone; the suffering of the heart. From the very opening of Play Outside the Lines Bruen weaves her furtive metaphors in among traditional folk chords, much like a modern day minstrel.
On the album’s soft but serious opener “Merry go Round,” Bruen sings, “one more spin on the merry go round/the more you pay/the less you enjoy the fair/something so fun/ when we were young/ has become a more serious affair.” The lyrics seem at once open to many interpretations though one gets the feeling that “Merry go Round” is not a fond reminiscence.
“Angel Eyes” unfolds like a rambling country folk ballad and showcases both Bruen’s falsetto vocals and also the strength of her backing band. The fiddle, bass, and ukulele all work in unison to make the song catchy in a rather unusual way.
Not every song works as well though. “Enda's Song” which is hopped up and bouncy (although it bounces a bit too much). The song becomes lost at times and gets somewhat tedious about half way through. The piano and string ballad “Blue Day” sounds like something off the soundtrack of a cartoon Disney movie, and seems rather out of place on Play Outside the Lines. The album returns to form for the closing live recording of “Falling Too.” Here the band is once again in unison and sound like they’re all playing within the lines, which ironically is when Tracy Bruen and her brood sound best.
Become A Fan
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook