Tracyanne & Danny: 'a joyous reminder that every moment is precious'
- David Pollock
- 4 May 2018
An elegy to old friends and the passing of time from Tracyanne Campbell and Danny Coughlan
A press release for a new record isn't a definitive statement from the artists concerned, but in the absence of any interviews at time of writing from Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell or Bristol-based songwriter Danny 'Crybaby' Coughlan, it's hard not to speculate on the nature of their collaboration. The release refers, first of all, to the death of Campbell's bandmate and friend Carey Lander in 2015 – 'all band activity stopped … time passed' – and then points out that 'Tracyanne & Danny is not a diverting curio or a wee stop on the road to someplace else. There will be more songs.'
What that says for the immediate future of Camera Obscura is hard to guess, but it says much for the importance of this record that Campbell has chosen it as the vehicle for her first songs after Lander died. For much of the duration, there's an air of elegiac country sadness which fans of Campbell's other band will love, even on the brighter songs; a stirring blend of shuffling drums, steel guitar, sad horns and sweeping strings which perfectly complement this pair's tough but heartbroken voices.
A sense of loss, of the old passing away leaving only fond memories behind, permeates the whole record, from the mourning of a breaking love on 'It Can't Be Love Unless It Hurts' to the plea to an old friend or lover to explain their elopement to America on '2006' and 'Cellophane Girl's galloping exhortation to snatch romance where we can. Between themselves, Campbell and Coughlan have conjured a simple but beautiful evocation of memory and time passing, from the almost unbearable perspective of those you love no longer being there to share the old days with you.
Yet this record serves not to depress or browbeat, and when the lush baritone of Edwyn Collins – a treasure who we very fortunately still speak of in the present tense, in whose studio it was recorded – turns up on 'Alabama', it's a joyous reminder that every moment is precious. 'I couldn't hope for a better soul / when I'm an old lady I'll still miss you like crazy,' sings Campbell, and the realisation she's addressing her friend draws a tear.
Out Fri 25 May on Merge Records. Tracyanne & Danny play St Luke's, Glasgow, Thu 31 May.