Tracy Bonham Wax & Gold
(2015, A Woody Hollow records)
After listening to Woodstock-based singer-songwriter Tracy Bonham's terrific new album Wax & Gold a bunch of times, it's no surprise to learn that a few years back Bonham teamed up with Danish group the Damn Crystals to perform Paul McCartney's landmark Ram album in its entirety live in Copenhagen—Wax & Gold could well be Bonham's answer to Ram. Like that album, Bonham's is a getting-back-to-the-roots effort that jumps around stylistically (from the R&B of "Under the Ruby Moon" to the Shawn Colvin-flavored, rootsy pop folk of "Lovelovelovelovelove") while it celebrates family connections (the haunting "This Here's My Grandpa's Guitar") and the idyllic nature of rural life (the title track).
Bonham and her husband recently adopted a child from Ethiopia, so several numbers deal with motherhood and identity, including "Luck" and "Black Tears," grafting a Roy Orbison-like melody onto a Phil Spector rhythm line. The album by the Grammy Award-nominated artist and former touring member of Blue Man Group kicks off with "Noonday Demon," a jazz tune with a blues structure built upon a Dave Brubeck-like irregular meter, featuring flute and saxophone by Jay Collins. While Bonham is a classically trained violinist and pianist, producer Kevin Salem (Yo La Tengo, Boys Against Girls) wisely chooses to showcase Bonham's considerable strengths as a vocalist and songwriter (as well as providing sterling backup on guitars, banjo, and dobro himself). Wax & Gold is a bright and shining addition to one of our best local rock singer-songwriter's considerable catalog. Tracybonham.com.