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Matters of the Heart

Tracy Chapman

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Album Review

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.

Biography

Born: 30 March 1964 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Tracy Chapman helped restore singer/songwriters to the spotlight in the '80s. The multi-platinum success of Chapman's eponymous 1988 debut was unexpected, and it had lasting impact. Although Chapman was working from the same confessional singer/songwriter foundation that had been popularized in the '70s, her songs were fresh and powerful, driven by simple melodies and affecting lyrics. At the time of her first album, there were only a handful of artists performing such a style successfully, and her...
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Matters of the Heart, Tracy Chapman
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