Label: Hollywood Records
Rating: 8 / 10
With the release of his fifth album, once again Tricky has managed to surprise expectations and calm the fears. It’s no wonder he’s so strongly against being thrown into the ‘Trip Hop’ genre, that many claim his debut, “Maxinquaye”, created. “BlowBack” can’t be cornered into just one genre, there should be a dark corner in every music shop for all original artists.
The Bristol-born but now New Jersey resident’s last four albums would be right at home in the darkness. But this latest release has been rightfully tagged, “…his most accessible LP of his career.” There’s even a sweet HAPPY song! Tricky has made some beautiful songs in the past, full of emotion but never the ‘sweet gentle, romantic sound’ found on ‘Your Name’, which will surprise his fans for sure. This is not a bad thing, it’s refreshing to hear a ‘happy love’ song without the used-and-abused formula that dominates the pop charts.
The majority of “BlowBack” is easy to digest, unlike his past albums. Alanis Morrisette adds her voice to the opener, ‘Excess’. But not as you would have expected as Stephanie McKay is the main impressive vocal. Tricky is known for discovering unknown talent and letting them shine on more then just one song. Ragga vocalist ‘Hawkman’ appears on half the album, bringing a fast-paced flavour, reminiscent of Buju Banton, with his singing voice. On ‘Diss Never (We Dig Up History)’ he spins a interesting crime story.
‘Bury The Evidence’ is more like the dark side of Tricky. Being a huge Notorious B.I.G. fan, here Tricky takes on the keyboard notes of ‘What’s Beef’. It show’s his production mastery, the way he builds a song with growing adrenalin. “I can picture it now, you in your car, left the bar, playin’ Big Pa.” Hawkman adds backing vocals as Tricky and the song get more amped as the guitars and drums rev up and then disappear. On ‘Give It To ‘Em’, Hawkman and Tricky verbalise perfectly together, as an answerphone machine divides them.
Keeping with the genre-less method, the album ends with ‘A Song For Yukiko’, in Japanese words. “For you I’d suffer much pain, sharp glass and migraine.” Half the songs on here are created for your own imagination, as he leaves us with clues to the ‘real meanings’. Because there is no straight formula, “BlowBack” is over before you fully appreciate it. A mixture of Rock, Ragga, HipHop and Melody. Nowhere near as hard to decipher as ‘Angels With Dirty Faces’ or ‘Pre Millenium Tension’ and not the timeless masterpiece that was/is “Maxinquaye”, “BlowBack” is friendly in comparison. This time it’s not the ‘confusion and intrique’ that keeps you coming back for more, it’s the original quality of one of the most slept on unselfish producer/songwriters around today.