What happens when the celebrated "femme fatale for the thinking man" applies her dark elegance to a Christmas album?
Silver Smoke, Star of Night beckons away from the cheap holiday tinsel and phony cheer to reveal a more evocative, sophisticated undercurrent. This is the season's Night Music–– Jill Tracy's glorious realm that lurks within the shadow of Christmas, and will cast you under its spell.
Silver Smoke, Star of Night is Jill Tracy's lavish, shadowy interpretation of some of the more haunting classic carols. Emotional, delicate, and textural, the music was recorded in completely organic, but grand fashion-––from hand-held antique chimes, bells, toys, mallets, bamboo, metals, and drums by master percussionist Randy Odell; to the mysterious heartfelt strings of cult violinist Paul Mercer.
The space, the breath, the huge dynamics of the recording add to its intensity and filmic aspect. This ambiance was a crucial factor for Jill Tracy who even sampled environments, including an abandoned stairwell at night, to create the reverb sound for her piano.
"I wanted listeners to lose themselves hypnotically within this music, but also honor and embrace the imagery, " Tracy explains. "We 3 Kings begins with a veritable score of the Magi traveling far, in the black of night, laden with strange, exotic gifts. In fact, the lyrics for We 3 Kings was a major part of the reason I wanted to do this album. The little-known verses are dark and gorgeous: Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume / breathes of life of gathering gloom / sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying / sealed in the stone-cold tomb. -- These are not songs merely to be sung, but tales to be told."
The inspiration for Silver Smoke, Star of Night came at the urging of fans on Twitter. Jill Tracy tweeted about an adventure that found her inside San Francisco's historic Swedenborgian Church at midnight last Christmas Eve singing by candlelight.
"I've never really been into Christmas," she reveals. "But I was completely moved, had not heard some of these songs for years. The lyrics are poignant and bleak, yet hopeful. I began researching some of the more older obscure carols, some of these date back to the Middle Ages. I wanted to interpret them in my style, create an emotional, mystical journey befitting to the spirit and subject matter. But at the same time, music that you could listen to at any time of year."
Silver Smoke, Star of Night includes the 16th century "Coventry Carol", (a mothers lament over King Herod's Massacre of the Innocents;) a nine-minute swoon-worthy "O Come O Come Emanuel" with sweeping violins, angular piano, and an almost noir jazz contrabass, a devastatingly beautiful piano vocal version of "What Child is This," and "Room 19," Jill Tracy's original ballad about a spirit haunting a run-down hotel room after his 1947 Christmas Eve suicide.
"This album has become one of my most empowering projects yet," Jill Tracy reveals. "And one I never imagined doing. That's what makes it utterly compelling."
MORE ABOUT JILL TRACY:
Jill Tracy will transport you into a seductive and magical realm far beyond the Everyday. The place where we wished we lived. A dark, elegant netherworld full of hidden passageways, wonder cabinets, and opium dens. Of monsters, marvels and mayhem. You know it’s not safe here; but with Jill Tracy as your guide, you’ll be in no hurry to leave.
The San Francisco-based singer/pianist/storyteller and “musical evocateur” has garnered multiple awards and a passionate following for her eerie and beautiful cinematic music, sophisticated lyrics, old-world glamour, and curious passion for strange tales. She has seduced iconic admirers including Jello Biafra, Lydia Lunch, David J (Bauhaus), Clive Barker, and Lemony Snicket.
LA Weekly has hailed Jill Tracy as "the cult darling of the Underworld." The Washington Times has "officially dubbed her the Diva of Darkness - ornate and ravishing in her chilling charm." NPR's All Things Considered states “Jill Tracy is utterly intriguing. She transports you into a magical world solely of her creation.” Sacramento Bee writes “Rooted in film, Jill Tracy’s musical career keeps returning her, darkly, to the screen. Inspired musically by Hitchcock composer Bernard Hermann, and visually by the shadowy black and white imagery of film noir, Jean Cocteau, F.W
Murnau and Fritz Lang, Jill Tracy combines a dramatic piano style with seductive, perfectly enunciated captivating vocals. She radiates intelligence with a sophisticated, eerie sensibility… classical, timeless.”
San Francisco Chronicle has named her "the femme fatale for the thinking man."
released October 15, 2012
Piano, vocals- Jill Tracy
Drums, percussion, metals, antique bells, chimes, toys-- Randy Odell
Violin- Paul Mercer
Contrabass- Kenny Annis
engineered, mixed by John Anaya, Humpback Recording (San Francisco)
additional engineering, mixing by Drew Zajicek, GetReel Productions, Bruce Bennett.
mastered by Gary Hobish, A. Hammer Mastering
produced by Jill Tracy with John Anaya
Photography by Audrey Penven
Artwork, star puppetry by Trista Musco
"Room 19"- words and music by Jill Tracy
All others are classic carols, some dating back to the Middle Ages.
For more info, please visit JILLTRACY.com