Tracy Chapman

Matters of the Heart

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Less bold and angry than her previous work, Chapman paces Matters of the Heart over an acoustic course that touches equally on personal vignettes and social commentary. With her fluid, rapid-fire delivery, Chapman takes aim at society and lands several direct hits devoid of self-righteousness: songs about the downtrodden ("Bang Bang Bang"), feminism ("Woman's Work"), and freedom ("I Used to Be a Sailor"). The album's centerpiece is "If These Are the Things," a subtle, passionate masterpiece about coming to grips with innocence lost. A couple of songs suffer from too much sweetening in the studio, diluting the impact of Chapman's potent lyrics. The extraneous bells and whistles dressing up "Dreaming on a World" provide the most obvious example of a trend Chapman would do well to avoid in the future.

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