I haven’t heard much of Tracy Chapman’s music in the past, except for what I’ve heard on the radio. I must say, every time “Fast Car” comes on in my car, I turn it up, roll down my windows and sing along with it. I knew a lot of her music consisted of protest and freedom songs about politics and a revolution, so in this time of political unrest and change, I was curious to see what her new album, “Our Bright Future,” would be like.
The album opens with a song that immediately grabbed me with the simple finger picking melody of the guitar. “Sing For You” is bound to affect anyone who’s ever had a love for music. Even though the lyrics are simple - the underlying meaning of comparing her loved one to a song - Chapman’s passion for music shines through in the words.
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Her spirituality comes out with the religious overtones in “Save Us All.” I often emphasize the beauty in simplistic songs and the best part about this upbeat number is the fact that the only percussion used in the song sounds like a methodical slapping of the knees.
There’s a tinge of pain in her voice in “For A Dream” — a song with a mixture of turmoil and sadness with desire and longing for a different outcome of present circumstances. She longs for a world where there’s no “stabbing in the back,” but knowing she will never see that day, she just put it into words and turned her words of hope into a song. That’s what any good songwriter would do, and Tracy Chapman has always been a stellar songwriter. Honest and sincere almost to a fault, bravely opening up her inner thoughts for the entire world to hear.
Chapman seems to have kept consistent in her songwriting over the years. This album definitely has its share of “peace and freedom” songs that are on par with the protest songs of the 60s. “Something To See,” and the album’s title track, “Our Bright Future,” are perfect examples of that, as she sings about hoping to live long enough to see “no war, no greed.”
The straightforward candor of her lyrics, her ever-present rich and affecting voice, along with her exceptional guitar playing, tie each song of this album together to create something thoroughly enjoyable for any folk music… or just music… fan, alike.