Tracie Morgan,
Beyond the Illusion
(House of Mystery, 1998)

A stranger, coming to this music for the first time, would be very impressed. And rightfully so. At 28 years of age, Tracie Morgan is an accomplished artist with a confident sense of her own music and with powerful abilities as a lyricist. Her manifest talent is evident throughout Beyond the Illusion. However, as one who has followed Morgan's work through a large segment of her career, I find this release somewhat of a disappointment.

There is a hollow, empty sound to the music, as though Morgan were singing in a vacuum. Often, her guitar sounds sharp and tinny. Although this is a live recording, Morgan's playing and especially her singing lacks much of the powerful emotion for which she is known in her live performances.

These effects may in fact have little to do with Morgan's performance per s but with the environment in which she had recorded. Since this is a recording of live performances at a coffee house, it may be that the acoustic qualities of the room were less than ideal. On the other hand, the frailty of the sound may have more to do with the mixing of the sound or with other technical factors.

Although I doubt this is the case, it may also be that Morgan needs the support of a band to fill out her recordings. Although they were recorded in different circumstances, her recordings singing with the bands Film at Eleven and Poem de Terre both had a fuller sound than this current work.

That having been said, this limited edition recording may be pivotal in the career of this very talented artist and may even become a collector's item. Even if it does not, beyond the illusion is well worth adding to one's personal collection.

While lightweight as compared to much of Morgan's live and recorded work, this music is pleasant and easy on the ear. Because the only accompaniment is Morgan's guitar, her finely crafted lyrics are easy to hear. As well, there is included a booklet containing all the lyrics.

Especially worth listening to are: "Ten Thousand Souls," "This Child Must Grow," "Keeper of the Monument," "Sing Through the Seasons" and "Mystery."

An accomplished writer, guitarist and singer, Tracie Morgan is an artist to watch. We are certain to see more recordings from her, and I would not be surprised to see other artists record her songs as well.

[ by Bob MacKenzie ]
[ Sound Bytes ]

Check out her Web site.