On her fine second album, I Will, Tracy Lyons possesses such a honeyed, delicate voice that it's often difficult to reconcile that light touch with the often tough words she's singing. Lyons never skimps on raw emotion, and she's not afraid to cut deep, yet that softie voice of hers often sounds like it's trilling a lullaby even as she lays out the circumstances behind the betrayal of a lover: "I'm on a crazy ride/Feelin' so compromised/Knowin' you turned on me," she sings in "Not You," one of the album's early highlights. The guitars are slashing away in a Hendrix-ian wah-wah rage, and the drums and bass are blazing and bashing. But Lyons keeps her cool, maintaining her even-keeled temperament even as the swaggering band shifts into power pop/power-chord overdrive for the chorus. That band rocks mighty hard when it needs to and soothes appropriately when Lyons -- who wrote all of the songs -- turns down the heat. The album's most memorable moments occur when she finds the ideal balance somewhere in between. During the slow and steady build of "Yes," for example, a survivor moves cautiously forward ("It's a miracle to me that I'm here to say what I feel") -- the chiming guitars loop mantra-like as Lyons unravels her story -- until she can't hold back anymore. The chorus is an explosion of sorts, but more a firecracker than an atom bomb. That's the rub: Lyons' major drawback (if indeed it is one) may in fact be the flipside of her greatest strength. Even as she musters the power to belt one out, she can't help but sound vulnerable and sweet. Lyons' tenderness -- present in its various guises in the aching environmentalist plea of "Save Me," the second-chance love of "Fallen," the confessional opening track "Don't You Know" -- isn't a liability so much as an artistic trademark. It's a confusing one at first, but in the end it serves her well.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jeff Tamarkin