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Telling Stories [Bonus CD]

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Tracy Chapman 7/24/2001

Review

Forget that Tracy Chapman's fourth album shares a title with the Charlatans UK's fifth album (and sole masterpiece) Telling Stories -- as far any fan knows, Chapman probably isn't even aware of the Madchester group's existence. Instead, it should be viewed as what it is -- the sequel to New Beginning, the album that reaffirmed Chapman's status as a fine singer/songwriter to a wide audience. That record became a hit thanks to a bluesy, hooky cut called "Give Me One Reason." Telling Stories, as the title suggests, leans toward narratives, but not necessarily in the conventional sense of the term. There are no story songs, in the way that "Fast Car" was a story. Instead, they are emotional, poetic snapshots -- sort of like the musical equivalent of a dense, impressionistic short story. Chapman's songs on Telling Stories may not be as packed with detail as, say, Raymond Carver's work, but they certainly have a way of creating impressionistic lyrics, making short lines mean a lot. Also, the last album taught her a valuable lesson: her lyrics can be rich, but her compositions won't work collectively as a record if she doesn't craft melodic songs and warm productions. That's exactly what she delivers on Telling Stories. Some may think she does this to a fault -- it's easy to coast on the sound of the record without digging into the lyrics -- but the end result is basically the same: a strong, appealing collection of sturdy, tuneful, and evocative songs. This album may not sparkle with genius, as her debut did, nor is it as direct as its predecessor, but it's a strong, solid record that maintains Chapman's reputation as a reliably intriguing and substantive singer/songwriter. [Telling Stories was also released with a second disc of bonus tracks.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Telling Stories Tracy Chapman 3:57
  3. 2 Less Than Strangers Tracy Chapman 3:19
  4. 3 Speak the Word Tracy Chapman 4:12
  5. 4 It's OK Tracy Chapman 4:0
  6. 5 Wedding Song Tracy Chapman 4:36
  7. 6 Unsung Psalm Tracy Chapman 4:19
  8. 7 Nothing Yet Tracy Chapman 3:21
  9. 8 Paper and Ink Tracy Chapman 4:52
  10. 9 Devotion Tracy Chapman 2:48
  11. 10 The Only One Tracy Chapman 3:8
  12. 11 First Try Tracy Chapman 3:31
  13. 1 Three Little Birds [Live] Tracy Chapman 3:27
  14. 2 House of the Rising Sun [Live] Tracy Chapman 2:2
  15. 3 Mountains O' Things [Live] Tracy Chapman 5:6
  16. 4 Behind the Wall [Live] Tracy Chapman 2:9
  17. 5 Baby Can I Hold You Tracy Chapman 3:13

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