Tracey Thorn returns with her solo album ‘Out Of The Woods’, her first solo outing since 1982’s ‘A Distant Shore’. Of course that’s not saying that she has been idle in that space of time, Thorn is most recognisable in her role as the singer in the husband/wife duo Everything But The Girl as well as a number of collaborations with the likes of Massive Attack. Her latest album however looks set to return her to the forefront of popular music on the back of the recent single ‘Its All True’.

As an album it’s a very rounded affair, dipping into Thorn’s own musical history to embrace a variety of styles. This comes courtesy of the musical forces involved in the creation of the album most notably Ewan Pearson who has added a defined electronic touch to a number of the tracks on offer.

Songs like ‘Its All True’ harvest an honest to goodness pop sensibility interspersed with a pristine up tempo dance sheen, made all the more effective when Thorn’s rich vocals drape themselves over the top warming what could be an otherwise slightly chilly affair through just nicely.

Still its not all beats and basslines. Thorn steps off the pedal and delivers gentler offerings which make you harken back to the EBTG days before Todd Terry reworked ‘Missing’ and effectively reinvented the band’s sound. Just listen to ‘By Piccadilly Station I Sat Down And Wept’ with its heartfelt lyrics (one of Thorn’s strong point in terms of this album) tugs relentlessly at the strings as a tale of lament.

Elsewhere there is an ethereal sense of drama to tracks like ‘Easy’ which gently opens the door and lets the electronica influences back in gradually. While ‘Falling Off A Log’ mixes strings with an almost glitchy synth line. What’s interesting to note here is Thorn seems to be moving forward in terms of her vocal styling, her move into a somewhat higher register does take some getting used to but the results are almost unanimously pleasing.

As far as albums go we’re only at the close of March but as it stands this is quite frankly one of the finer offerings we’ve seen this year. A thorough and well crafted album that showcases Tracey Thorn as a talent that has been missed during her absence.