Tracyanne and Danny could be described as a new collaborative project between Tracyanne Campbell, vocalist and founding member of Glasgow’s Camera Obscura and Danny Caughlan of Crybaby. However, this joint venture was conceived some time ago but heartbreaking events put the effort on hold until now.
They first met back in 2013, when Caughlan was invited by Campbell to support Camera Obscura while they toured what would prove to be their fifth and final album Desire Lines. The pair struck up a friendship and discussed recording together. Tragically however, Camera Obscura keyboard player Carey Lander lost her battle with bone cancer in 2015 and all musical projects were halted. As time moved on though, Conway and Coughlan began a writing partnership. At the suggestion of Camera Obscura manager and Teenage Fanclub drummer Francis MacDonald, they set up camp in Helmsdale in the far north of Scotland and began recording at the studio of former Orange Juice frontman Edwyn Collins.
Collins co-produced this record and helped pull together a stellar team. Sean Read of Dexy’s engineered with multi instrumentalist and longtime Collins collaborator Carwyn Ellis on keys. While this record has the unmistakable melancholy sound synonymous with Tracyanne’s Camera Obscura days, it also has the distinct heartbroken crooning tones of Danny Coughlan’s Crybaby records. They take it in turns to step into the vocal spotlight but you never feel they overshadow each other. Instead complimenting each other and delivering a sound that is theirs for this record and hopefully others in the future.
Home and Dry begins the album with Tracyanne’s acapella vocal. The backing is built with a gentle rim shot drum and clarinet in the pleasing style of Camera Obscura, along with the warm backing of Danny’s voice. Caughlan’s vocal takes on a stronger role in It Can’t Be Love Unless It Hurts accompanied by the warm sound of a string section. Deep in the Night features mellow saxophone, together and the strings and woodwind that reoccur during this record give both this track and the album a wonderfully sad but pleasing feel.
Both these artists bring their personal experiences into their writing and Campbell sings about her lost friend and bandmate Carey Lander on Alabama. Far from a maudlin number, this warm, country sounding tune with lap steel guitar and Edwyn Collins on backing vocals, recalls a happy time spent touring the US together. Danny once again steps into the vocal spotlight for Jaqueline his crooning, Hawleyesque voice honeylike. On 2006 an acapella dom de dom intro has an almost doo wop quality over acoustic guitar and Campbell’s tender vocal takes the first half, while Danny takes a more prominent role in the second. The Honeymooners sounds like it could be on the soundtrack of a French noir film or an English language Serge Gainsbourg record.
Anybody Else has Danny’s vocals high in the mix with a verse that sounds like a chorus and Campbell coming in on a chorus that sounds more like a middle eight. Cellophane Girl is up beat, snare heavy with a faster pace than appears anywhere else on the album. The song recalls Caughlan’s teenage infatuation with a girl he used to work alongside at a Bristol plastics factory and the perfectly produced hand claps give this track a tap along beat. O’Keefee is the final track of the album, its Accordion and reverb heavy vocals paint a wonderful illustration of an escape New Mexico while maintaining a Parisian pavement feel.
This is a fantastically written, performed and produced record by the duo who have hinted they have more music squirreled away than appears on this record. While the future of Camera Obscura has yet to be decided, we hope for their return. But we also hope for the continuance of this musical partnership. They are also embarking on a US Tour beginning June 14th in Atlanta, GA. You can find details of all their US dates here.
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