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Tracer: El Pistolero

While many were falling over themselves to bestow greatness upon Aussie fret burners Tracer after the release of their Spaces In Between effort, I have to be honest and say that I didn't really hear what all the fuss was about. Yes the three piece of bassist Leigh Brown - now replaced by Jett Heysen-Hicks - Michael Brown (vocals and guitar) and Dre Wise (drums) hit hard through a modern yet classic approach that Black Stone Cherry and The Answer have been purveying in recent years. However in the end the songs on the lauded second effort all became much of muchness, as did Tracer when compared to their peers. However album number three El Pistolero finds a band more willing and capable of forging their own way, even if the influences in play remain very obvious for all to see.

The BSC/The Answer crossover remains, however with the voice of Brown sounding ever more like Chris Cornell, a decidedly Soundgarden like flavour has been added to the Tracer mix, as has a stonier edge in the style of Queens Of The Stone Age. All good things in my book, as is the obvious raising in songwriting standards right across the whole album, illustrating a refined style less likely to meander, searching for that killer hook. Instead on El Pistolero Tracer sound more assured, with lengthy time on the road paying off in spades. A tightness and focus that was previously only hinted at, in evidence from start to finish. That doesn't automatically mean that Tracer have suddenly become the finished article, with their musical influences still being all too readily apparent, but this time not distractingly so.

The album's title track and part one of a four part "Suite Del Desperado" that runs through El Pistolero kicks things off, riff blazing, voice hoarsely hollering, before "Lady Killer" utilises a roaming beat to add swagger to the mix and a hint of Nirvana. However as with their previous releases as you roam across the scorching landscape Tracer lay out, the heavier, riff-rollin' tracks can start to sound similar in structure, while still to be fair remaining rollicking good fun. Where this album does really begin to stand out though, is through the slower more considered songs, with the stomp of "Dry Little Secret" proving captivating, while the scintillating "Scream In Silence" illustrates a maturity only hinted at before. The atmospheric slow build living long in the memory, as Brown keeps the guitar work sparse, yet vital as his vocals find a voice of their own, less reliant on better known vocal phrases and postures to make their mark. It really is a special track.

Unsurprisingly the production from Kevin Shirley (everyone from Dream Theater to Black Country Communion) sparkles, while still adding grit and determination. Raising songs like "Hangman" or "Now I Ride" beyond mere knock 'em out, rock 'em out fist pumpers. While the bluesier "There's A Man" in places shows another facet to the Tracer sound.

Not yet the world beaters that many will have you believe (much like Rival Sons), Tracer have certainly made big strides with El Pistolero. If they can make another similar step up with album number three, all the hype will have been worth it.

Track Listing
1. El Pistolero
2. Lady Killer
3. Dirty Little Secret
4. Dead Garden
5. Ballad of El Pistolero
6. Santa Cecilia
7. Wolf In Cheap Clothes
8. Scream In Silence
9. Hangman
10. Manic For Ya
11. There's A Man
12. Until The War Is Won
13. Now I Ride

Added: April 9th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Tracer Online
Hits: 2077
Language: english

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