New Album "Awake" Offers a Brace of Brand-New Songs
Produced by Grammy Award Nominee Liam Davis
Los Angeles, California—Singer-songwriter Tracy Spuehler makes a long-anticipated return to the recording studio with the release of her 4th solo album Awake. Set to Spuehler’s trademark hooky melodies and unaffected, infectious vocal style, Awake chronicles the challenges and triumphs of everyday life with humor, mindfulness and compassion.
Awake marks yet another successful collaboration with Chicago-based Grammy-nominated producer Liam Davis, with contributions by fellow two-time Grammy nominee Gerald Dowd on drums. Together, Spuehler and Davis have fashioned another beautiful blend of electronic and acoustic sounds, though on this album, as Spuehler says, “We went for a more organic, analog feel, and more current yet classic-style songs.” She also, on songs like “Yellow Painted Line,” “got in touch with the country girl in me,” and indeed you can hear a definite lilt ‘n’ twang throughout much of Awake. Says Spuehler, “There are specific moments of the album—at least in my head—that I feel a specific influence, such as Elliot Smith, Patty Griffin, Chrissy Hynde, Suzanne Vega…” But perhaps the closest comparison might be Lucinda Williams, for the two share a plain-spoken poetry in their lyrics and a heart-on-the-sleeve honesty in the way they sing them.
Awake’s themes reflect the recent events of Spuehler’s life, as during the seven years between albums she has raised two children (and gotten a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy to boot)! How does one remain aware of the grander aspects of life when so much of the day is consumed with the everyday demands of parenting? By remaining “awake” to the moment, the cycle of light/dark, day/night, life/death. As the album’s first song, “This Is the Season,” starts out: “Here we go again/A new day has begun/The sun is calling/Here we go again.” The song is bookended and balanced by the album-closer “Naptime,” which wryly and perceptively catalogs all the things she tries to accomplish during the short respite afforded her by her toddler’s afternoon siesta.
Elsewhere, Awake explores the entire spectrum of romantic love, from the comfort of having a lover “give me shelter from the storm outside” in “A Place Called Home” to the feeling of that first overwhelming crush getting “a hold on me like I am only 16 and I got nothing else to think about except boys and school and going out” on “Dizzy for Your Love” to the lovelorn lament of “He’s Gone”: “So sudden like a bomb, I am blown to bits, trying to make the pieces fit.”
“A lot of life and death happened during the making of this album,” comments Spuehler. “Recording and releasing an album often feels like birthing a baby. This album was more like having triplets!”
However painful and prolonged its delivery, Awake is one of the most uplifting and entrancing records you’ll hear this year.