On her fifth album, violinist Tracy Bonham edges closer to elements of country and blues than ever before.
Wax & Gold, like 2010’s Masts of Manhatta, continues Bonham’s obvious comfort in just being herself. The songs found here are free of the angst and snarl found on her earlier work and instead are a sunnier, more comfortable collection of tunes with strong elements of country and blues found throughout.
Funded solely from Bonham’s fans via PledgeMusic, the album’s title is taken from a phrase in Abyssinian poetry where ‘wax’ is the obvious meaning and ‘gold’ is the hidden one – a sensible reference given the recent changes in Bonham’s life where she and her husband adopted a child from Ethiopia over the last year.
And it’s Bonham’s newly found motherhood which is the heart of the sweet title track, as it is on the infectious ‘Luck,’ in which she sings, “I take you home / take you from that country / carry you across the water / from the place you’ve known / from where you once belonged / like a rose I picked out of the garden.”
Other standouts include ‘Noonday Demon,’ a groovy jazz number which features guest vocals by former Ween member, Aaron Freeman and the bittersweet and beautiful ‘One of These Days,’ a piano-only track in which Bonham anticipates the eventual exit of a cherished loved one.
Songwriter Langhorne Slim makes an appearance on the bouyant, hand-clapping sing-along, ‘From the Tree to the Hand to the Page’ and ‘LoveLoveLoveLoveLove.’
Wax & Gold may surprise some long-time fans of Bonham’s, as it certainly doesn’t possess the wry humor or punch found on some of her earlier works, but what it may lack in bite, it makes up for in sheer comfort and joy from a songwriter who is evolving wonderfully and is clearly happy being in the present.