Review: Tracy Bonham Returns to Alt-Rock Peak With Rebuilt ‘Burdens’
Tracy Bonham’s 1996 debut The Burdens of Being Upright turned Gen-X jitters and Berklee-honed chops into alt-rock gold. 20 years later, Bonham has re-imagined the album, pulling its songs apart and inviting a few pals (Belly’s Tanya Donnelly, Letters to Cleo’s Kay Hanley, the New Pornographers’ Kathryn Calder and more) to help put them back together. The radio hit “Mother Mother,” originally a frayed-nerves blast through early-adulthood angst, turns into a blues-tinged mosey through 2017’s magnified anxieties (“Trump is trending,” she laments); “Navy Bean,” originally a punky corker, stretches out its spindly lick over stomping drums; “The Real” gets a lift from rich harmonies (courtesy of Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis) and swirling distortion. Modern Burdens is a lovingly penned postcard to Bonham’s past self, and a fascinating look at where she’s at right now.