Tracy McNeil: Fire From Burning

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Tracy McNeil: Fire From Burning


It’s not surprising, therefore, that Canadian singer-songwriter Tracy McNeil chose to pack her bags and make the arduous journey across both the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean to try her musical luck in Australia. With a debut album already released in Canada, McNeil teamed up initially in Australia with Jordie Lane in the acclaimed Fireside Bellows project; three years later, and McNeil has graced us with her second album, Fire From Burning.


McNeil is equally at home in the distinct realms of country rock and folk; in the former territory, the title-track struts with the aplomb of a seasoned southern country rocker, augmented with guitarist Matt Green’s wild licked outro. To Spend A Night skips through the ephemeral excitement of adolescent romance, Whippoorwill nods sagely in the direction of Downhills Home, Melody Breakers is wild-eyed fiddle-and-banjo beauty while Rise And Fall provides the ideal soundtrack for a train ride through the lush valleys of the Rocky Mountains.


When the tempo drops, so too does the intensity rise: Only Road is as sparse as the rural landscapes of both McNeil’s adopted residence and her country of origin, Unchartered Ground is heavy in a Richard Manuel sort of way, Ride Home is bristling with childlike pleasure and the emotional depth of In My Time (a tribute to McNeil’s parents’ original meeting) could bring a tear to the eye.


In some ways, it was inevitable Tracy McNeil would find her way to Australia, and Melbourne in particular. Is it patronising to say Fire From Burning could only have been conceived in the Melbourne music scene? Probably – but no offence should be taken.


By Roy Fredericks