Just glancing at the front cover (shot by surrealist photographer Michael Garlington) of "The Bittersweet Contrain" and you know that you're in for something beautiful, beautiful and dark.
Jill Tracy's voice and piano skills are both of equal, remarkable merit. She's a master of them both, and yet she seems to get swept up in her own work... as if she's also the *mistress* to both her voice and piano. Her music can tease like a new lover, whisper like an old lover or snap like a scorned lover. This is a handcrafted collection of songs and Jill has hand-picked a skilled bunch (her "Malcontent Orchestra") to back her up. Erica Mulkey (Unwoman, Rasputina) lends her cello skills, bass woodwinds (flute,clarinet) are provided by Ralph Carney (who's worked with Tom Waits), Taranel's Tony Cross is a deft hand at the violin and it's all anchored by the understated percussion work for Randy Odell. The end result is like the evil twin of lounge/jazz, like a film noir score that comes from the elegant elseworld where shadows The Doors and Edith Piaf cross (if this was a film you know it would have been shot by David Lynch).
"The Bittersweet Constrain" is all about the heart, and the breaking thereof. It's a seductive album that is often so quiet you want to move closer to it, to become more intimate with it. It would be sultry if it wasn't so sinister. This is a missive that is as much love letter as it is whispered threat. It's can also act as a warning: the wallflower may also be a black widow. Once you step into a corner to meet Jill Tracy you might not make it back out. If you do get away pray that you haven't broken her heart in the process.
There is a terrible aftermath to love. When your eyes burn and your chest constricts so that it hurst to breathe, it's like the first flush of infatuation in reverse. Ms Tracy seems to know all about these moments. Love on "The Bittersweet Constrain" is dark ("In Between Shades", "Where Shadows Fall") and dangerous (the devil is invoked on "Sell My Soul", love is equated with drowning on "Room 19", the pain of love is catalogued on one of the album's strongest tracks "Torture). Love (and it's loss) are hard to shake (see every song on this album). It's almost as if Jill is performing a exorcism of one failed romance (starting with "Haunted by the Thought of You", my favorite song found here) so that she can move on to the next (she's smitten again by the last track "Treasure"). The exorcism is all sacrifice and blood and Jill Tracy wants a bit ours to mix in.