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- TRACY CHAPMAN – WASHINGTON POST , Dave McKenna, Published: October 19, 2005
Tracy Chapman’s show at the 9:30 club on Monday would have been more pleasant if only her fans adored her tunes as much as they adore her. Whenever Chapman strayed from her most familiar material, enough folks in the crowd talked or shouted catcalls to overpower her sweet and fragile voice.
At 41, Chapman no longer depends on anthems to the degree she did when she broke out of Boston as the future of female folk in 1988. Accompanist Joe Gore added eerie Daniel Lanois-like guitar fills to “Change,” a song from her latest CD, “Where You Live,” that has Chapman pondering life’s meaning in ways a college freshman might: “If you knew that you would die today, if you saw the face of God and love, would you change?” she sang.
With help from her single-named drummer, Quinn, Chapman replaced the folkie pop slant of “Why?,” a song that appeared on her debut LP, with a hip-hop pop slant. She covered the traditional “House of the Rising Sun” with its standard melody intact, but added a spacey pace and oodles of echo to Gore’s lap-steel guitar noodling. A cover of the Cure’s “Love Song” suffered from an overabundance of earnestness, and a bored crowd buzz.
Fans could make all the noise they wanted and still not disrupt Chapman’s revised “Give Me One Reason,” which she rearranged, seemingly on the fly, from its original blues format into a rockabilly burner. The change of pace appeared to surprise even her bandmates.
“Fast Car,” her signature tune and a song that once tried to empower the powerless, still can crush a crowd emotionally: “I had a feeling that I belonged, I had a feeling I could be someone,” Chapman sang, and most fans sang with her.
Some songs don’t wear as well as they once did. On “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution,” which like “Fast Car” came from her debut record, Chapman and a crowd that paid $40 a head sang lines such as “Poor people gonna rise up and take what’s theirs!” with smiles, not clenched fists.