Hate to admit this, but when I see the name “Everything But the Girl”, I usually expect to hear Tracey Thorn somewhere.
Thorn’s rich voice gives Everything But the Girl’s music a distinctly human touch, especially now that the pair has lept two feet into the cold, synthetic world of electronica.
Back to Mine, a series of remix recordings, is devoid of Thorn, but her presence isn’t entirely missed. Thorn and musical co-hort Ben Watt still manage to find that essential bit soul in the pieces they selected to remix for Back to Mine.
Beth Orton’s “Stars All Seem to Fall” epitomizes Everything But the Girl’s mastery at bringing humanity to technical wizardry.
Orton’s ruddy voice keys into the same emotional realm as Thorn’s, and Watt provides Orton with a restrained backdrop, letting Orton do what she does well.
At its core, Model 500’s “Flow” and the Ananda Project’s “Cascades of Colour” traffics in the same kind of dance floor-driven soul jazz that marked Everything But the Girl’s pre-DJ work.
Even some of the song’s themes, such as Slick Rick’s cautionary tale “All Alone (No One to Be With)” and the Roots’ “Silent Treatment”, parallel the love-lost longing in Thorn’s lyrics.
But Back to Mine is all about mood, one that shakes your hips, even if your heart does some twists and turns.
To that end, Everything But the Girl includes Margaret Mary O’Hara’s “To Cry About,” a folk-pop tune given a spare, ethereal arrangement that’s haunting as anything the duo has ever written.
It’s a terrific move, and O’Hara’s un-slick voice gives the collection a nice break from all the back beats and electro-effects.
If anything, Back to Mine feels like a really cool mixed tape given by friend. Except this mixed tape is threaded together by a single aesthetic that makes it feel personalized and person.
It’s as much your tape as it is the person who made it for you.