It is the TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY of my #1 album The Burdens Of Being Upright. MODERN BURDENS is the re-recoding and the reimagining of my “Burdens” album from 1996. Things have gotten surreal and exciting since we started this campaign. From my surprise “audition” with my friend Fred Armisen (video above), to what is now becoming a collaboration with AMAZING ARTISTS joining in on the project for charity.
We are making this project an event – with like minded female artists whom I have known and loved since the 90s to today (Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses / Belly, Sadie DuPuis of Speedy Ortiz / Sad13, Rachael Yamagata, Katherine Calder of New Pornographers, Angie Hart of Frente, Kay Hanley of Letters To Cleo, and Nicole Atkins) banding together to empower and uplift young women. This album was written about an abusive ex boyfriend more than twenty years ago, and the lyrics are finding their way into present day conversations I am / we are having about misogyny, making themselves relevant again.
At the end of this campaign, once the recording, mixing, mastering, manufacturing, shipping, of all exclusive items are paid for and fulfilled, we are giving part of the proceeds to a charity, as a donation, to www.girlup.org (as well as the percentage to Friends Of The Woodstock Library below).
Once you Pledge you will instantly receive a free download of the MODERN BURDENS MOTHER MOTHER 2016 recording that is already finished. Vocals by yours truly.
My collaborator and co-producer, John Wlaysewski (from the NYC band Late Cambrian), and I will be recording all the instruments on the songs: Mother Mother, Tell It To The Sky, Navy Bean, Kisses, Brain Crack, The One, Sharks Can’t Sleep, etc while adding the vocals from these wonderful singers (as well as myself – hey, I still gotta sing on this thing!) and we will call it…..MODERN BURDENS! Hell, if we are on a roll we will write a new song or two to make it truly modern.
I am super grateful for these amazing women offering their supreme talent for this project. I was amazed by the immediate and enthusiastic response I received from each of them as I asked them to be a part of it. It warmed my heart. I had quickly forgotten what a hit Mother Mother was and how my album touched so many people. That said, when you find out that some of your favorite artists are actually fans of your record, it makes it even more worthwhile.
Some of you may not have been alive when my song Mother Mother was on the radio, and for you I am grateful, as you are here without even being a part of the frenzy that made my song and my album a hit in 1996. Some of you were kids at the time, or teenagers, or perhaps grown adults. I appreciate you! And I am so happy to still be here making music for you. With your help we can make this MODERN BURDENS album amazing and we can reach a lot of people if we just let them know about it. Let’s blow this out of the water. Sharing this project with your friends, your families, and your social media pages will only help us to reach our goal, and hopefully exceed it as there are always costs in the end that surprise us. It never fails.
Sharks Cant Sleep (feat. Tanya Donelly):
This 21st-century reimagining of Tracy Bonham’s spitfire 1996 debut The Burdens of Being Upright brings time and perspective to spirited alt-era anthems like the ruminative “One Hit Wonder” and the jittery “Navy Bean.” Singer-composer-violinist Bonham takes a loving approach to updating her younger self’s whip-smart songs, imbuing the radio-beloved letter to home “Mother Mother” with Trump-era weariness and transforming “The Real” into starlit fuzz-pop. Peers like Throwing Muses’ Tanya Donnelly and Letters to Cleo’s Kay Hanley supply cameos that keep the atmosphere celebratory, even when the source material is wracked with angst. M.J.
Tracy Bonham’s 1996 debut The Burdens of Being Uprightturned 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.
Bonham updates “Mother Mother,” originally an anthem about the rebellion of her twenties, into a reflection of the state of the world and the chaotic political climate. She turns the punky “Bulldog” into a very synth-driven exercise. She turns “The One” into a bit of a jazz ballad and reconstructs “Navy Bean,” while still maintaining an edge. She even adds a bonus interpretation of “Free,” the first song from her second album, “Down Here,” at the end of the record for good measure. (The version on “Down Here” is different and called “Freed”)
Bonham’s sound is maturing well. Like any tribute album, this one isn’t meant to openly completely replicate its source. Instead, it serves as a fitting companion-piece to a classic.