It’s been a while since we’ve heard new music from Lakewood-based musician Tracy Marie. The vocalist/guitarist/songwriter seemed to be all over the place at the turn of the millennium releasing a pair of albums within a couple of years — her 2001 debut Sheik European Assassin Women and 2003’s The One in the Sun.
She was all over town, playing her songs solo, acoustic folk-style, or with her rock band Glue, or with a funky metal project she was working with, or jamming with blues musicians. In 2001, she organized a breast cancer benefit called Breastfest, now an annual event, which features some of the city’s best women musicians.
By the end of the decade, she’d slipped off the radar. She put out a CD of a live performance with Tri-C’s Crooked River Groove program in 2009. And she continued to do Breastfest. But she wasn’t playing out as much due to issues with her hips, which cause pain and limit her mobility.
She still isn’t able to play much. But she found a solution to get out the songs she’s never stopped writing. She enrolled in Tri-C’s Recording Arts & Technology (RAT) program to learn how to produce her own tracks.
“It’s convenient that I can do everything at home now,” she says. “Physically, playing out is very hard for me. I’ve been having pain onstage. This is the only way I can put music out into the world. I can write and record at my own pace and not have to carry heavy equipment. That’s why I went to RAT. I wanted to be able to record and I couldn’t afford my recording habit.”
Her first salvo is a new 10-track CD called True Blue. Most of it’s not new but a compilation of tracks from various eras that she wanted to get out into the world, to clear the deck, so to speak.
“I went to RAT around 2009/2010,” she says. “I started doing my own producing and engineering. I set up at home and was starting to think about making another record so I said, I have to release this stuff I already have.”
Several of the tracks were recorded with the Bad Boys of Blues, with whom she frequently plays, as far back as a decade ago. One is a live track recorded on Dee Perry’s former WCPN 91.1 FM radio program, Around Noon, in 2003.
But True Blue also contains two brand-new tracks “I Could Use a Little Blues” and “Cleveland Bound,” both sparsely arranged tracks, the former featuring only Moss Stanley’s piano, the latter Michael Barrick’s bass. They have a sultry jazzy blues quality, as does “Real Good Time” which is a little reminiscent of Van Morrison. Some of the other material leans to alt-country, including “West Virginia” and the bluegrassy title track, which sounds like something Dolly Parton could have recorded. The straightforward electric blues of “The Hard Road” reflects the gigs she’s done with Bad Boys of Blues, who back her on the track.
She’s especially strong on the torchy pop ballad “Rainy Day,” displaying the casual confidence and expressive phrasing that marks all the tunes. Taken together, the tracks show off the refractive quality of Marie’s singing, which moves easily between blues, folk, rock, pop, country, and jazz-style delivery without sounding disjointed or like she’s groping for ways to be diverse.
Marie is already full of future plans now that the older songs are out. She want to release the demo she did as her capstone project at RAT, called Life or Death. But she’s also been busy in the working on a couple of records. And she’s been working on a new record called Crazy Ways.
“Mike Barrick has been coming over to work on Crazy Ways record,” she says. “It’s more alternative rock, which is what I was originally doing when I started writing songs. So I’m going back to my roots — what I feel most comfortable with. I’m about halfway through both of them. I want to have these two albums come out in the next year hopefully.”
Tracy Marie will celebrate the release of True Blue CD with a rare live gig. It’s at the Savannah in Westlake, where she’ll perform with the Bad Boys of Blues — Barrick, drummer Jim Wall, and guitarist Michael Bay.
Local singer-songwriter Taylor Lamborn (who took one of the photos on True Blue’s jacket) and bluegrassy Kent duo David & Valerie Mayfield open.