S.J. Tucker - Mischief
2010, S.J. Tucker
S.J. Tucker fell into music at the age of three. The was The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour that gave her the gentle shove that changes lives. A veteran of bands such as Skinny White Chick, Tricky Pixie and The Traveling Fates, Tucker has ten albums under her belt. A severe illness in 2008 and 2009 knocked Tucker off her feet and off the road for a time, but Tucker is back at with her tenth album, Mischief. Released in 2010, Tucker continues to mature as a songwriter while offering perhaps her most subtle work to date.
Mischief opens with "Ravens In The Library", an interesting personification of society and the roles that we take up in the course of human interaction. Role are portrayed here as birds out of their element, with the laws of nature and social pecking orders asserting themselves immediately. It's a cautionary morality tale exploring the effects our words and actions can have on others. The simple, energetic acoustic guitar-based arrangement is remeniscent of Ani DiFranco, while the vocal line is more Sarah McLachlan. "Cheshire Kitten (We're All Mad Here)" is an energetic folk number with real energy. Tucker builds tremendous rhythms into a single acoustic guitar part, supporting herself both musically and rhythmically. This is an anthem about being yourself in a world that ostracizes individualism, reminding us that we're all born a little off-kilter. The chorus here is atypical and will stick with you.
"Were-Owl" explores the dangers, and thrills, of romancing darkness. Tucker delivers her thoughts in a sultry, sensuous vocal line wrapped in stark harmonies. "Love Lies" is a soulful acapella number that's deliciously arranged. It's a short tune but full of sparks. "Don't Get My Hopes Up" features Tucker solo with an acoustic guitar. If ever a song were perfect for a singer is this one right here. Tucker transitions through her vocal range with an interesting blend of confidence, insecurity and an unwillingness to waste her time on anything less than the real thing. The dark and eerily beautiful textures of Tucker's voice will blow you away.
"Neptune" explores falling in love with someone new while looking back on a love that fell out. The arrangement has a dark, unkempt feel that's strangely beautiful. "Girl With The Lion's Tail" is a statement of self. Tucker wants a romance, but doesn't want to be an object or curiosity in that context. This isn't her best songwriting, but the exploration is an intriguing one. "September's Rhyme" is another gorgeous acapella piece, this time with a baroque feel. The vocal harmonies on this one are flat out amazing. "Salad Of Doom" is tongue-in-cheek take on the healthiest choice on the menu; a highly entertaining moment of lightness. "Witchka" is a sultry, witchy love song sung with the lusty abandon of young love. Tucker closes with "To My Valentine", a simply gorgeous love song that could easily become a staple for mix tapes and wedding receptions. Tucker keeps it simple in both arrangement and sentiment; there's nothing saccharine or contrived here. An amazing performance.
S.J. Tucker doesn't say no; doesn't back down. She practices the musical insistence of Ani DiFranco, the melodic intensity of Sarah McLachlan and the parenthetical approach to songwriting that fuels Tori Amos. Mischief is off the beaten path just enough to intrigue, but not so much as to scare away casual listeners. Tucker has the charisma and force of personality to wrap you in her charms and have her way with you, and the musical talents to make you love every minute of it. Mischief is a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc.
Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about S.J. Tucker at http://www.skinnywhitechick.com/ or www.myspace.com/sjtuckerskinnywhitechick. Mischief is available from Amazon.com as a CD or Download. The album is also available from iTunes.