Tracy Jane Comer

Singer-Songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist

www.tracyjanecomer.com

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Reviews

Guitar Player Magazine

Guitar Player Magazine - June 2009 issue (with photo)
Tracy Jane Comer Madison Wisconsin  - "Inside Passage"

Another excellent acoustic track From Madison Wisconsin! Comer chooses a steelier tone than Deiter (Joe Dieter from Madison was in 3rd), and she dances all over the strings with shimmering note flurries and dynamic flair.

Uncle William's Place
Wild Heart

The Bridge Works (Nashville, TN publication) - January/February, 2010 - page 7
[publication's web site]

Shifting Gears

Tracy Jane Comer has toured as a solo artist and small ensemble member out of Madison, Wisconsin, for a number of years, locating there from her native North Carolina. A strong vocalist and wonderful player on cello, piano, guitar, fiddle, and hammered dulcimer, she has primarily been involved in the folk/singer-songwriter circles with strong classical leanings.

As of January 16, "TJ" has joined Wild Heart, a Madison act ISTHMUS reporter Bob Koch calls "a top 40 country cover band," basically replacing vocalist Carmel Willet but also providing impetus for the group to bring a stronger mix of original material into their cover list.

Tracy Jane told Koch her decision to audition for a new direction developed during a two-year string ofillnesses and deaths among family and friends down South, dissipating her energy to tour as a solo act. "I knew I wanted to find opportunities to sing with others. Hearing about the Wild Heart opening, I didn't hesitate for a moment to audition as it seemed like this was just what I needed to get excited about doing music again. And the timing was perfect.

"The best part is that my Aunt Jane, who passed away in August, would have been thrilled to  hear this news since she was a country music fan. She was my life hero who is responsible for me being a musician at all — hence my inclusion of my middle name in my music career. So that was another signal that this would be the right move for me."

-Bill Littleton

Duluth News Tribune
3 of Cups 

Duluth News Tribune - March 5, 2010 - Article about 3 of Cups (interview with Rachel Nelson)
(Read this article at the publication's web site)

Rachel Nelson gets a little help from her friends

Fans of Two Harbors singer/songwriter Rachel Nelson will be in for a treat Sunday afternoon. While they'll still hear some of her solo standouts, the songs'll sound a little different. Why? Joining Nelson on the intimate Unitarian Universalist stage will be Madison singer/songwriter Tracy Jane Comer and Twin Cities percussionist Michael "Stix" Kiley. Otherwise known as 3 of Cups, this collaborative force has been around for a couple years now, but they've been on a bit of a hiatus due to illnesses in Comer's family.

"The idea of this collaboration is that [Tracy and I] can still do our originals — but we have this band context where we can use some of the other instruments we play to back each other up with," Nelson told the Budgeteer.

Now, you may find yourself asking: Why on Earth would a Northland musician willingly choose to work with a fellow singer/songwriter who lives 358 miles away (not to mention the triangular distance to their drummer's house)?

"Singer/songwriters come a dime a dozen," Nelson began, explaining that she heard something in Comer that completely mesmerized her.

Funny thing about that first connection is that it happened much farther away than little ol' Madison — it happened all the way up in Montreal, at a Folk Alliance gathering." They have something called guerrilla showcases in the hotel rooms at night after the regular [performer] showcases," Nelson said of her first encounter with Comer's output. "I was walking along in the hotel … and I heard this amazing guitar playing. I just stopped and went in the room — it was a round-robin and, as soon as she was done, I left."  Her future 3 of Cups bandmate was playing her 2004 composition "Yellow Bike," which is still one of Nelson's favorites. (Needless to say, it's one she and Comer regularly play together.) "She just had a beautiful voice, a beautiful finger-style guitar technique … and it turns out she plays pretty much everything else too," Nelson added.

As someone who hadn't played with other musicians in some time, something clicked for Nelson when she heard her play — it was an "a-ha" moment of sorts: She could see herself playing with Comer. As luck would have it, Comer invited Nelson over to Madison (she lived in Red Wing before relocating to Two Harbors) to open for her shortly after the Great White North run-in. "We decided that, just for fun, we'd back each other up on our stuff," Nelson said. "She came out during the opening set and backed me up, and I backed her up on her set. That was kind of the germ of the (3 of Cups) idea."  Eventually the two women enlisted Kiley on drums, and occasionally Mad Town folkie Tret Fure guests at their shows as well.

While expanding the scope of their respective solo creations seems to be a formula that's working for 3 of Cups' chief songwriters, Nelson believes the collaboration could prove to be even more fruitful. "We want to have some sort of working retreat — in person," she said. "I think it would be a marriage made in heaven to write together, but we haven't really come out and said that yet."

The Two Harbors musician said 3 of Cups becoming more of a group (as in doing more than backing each other up) would work because she and Comer excel at different things. "She's really, really good harmonically … and I'm really good with melody," Nelson said. "And we both like to write lyrics, so that would be really interesting to collaborate."

The trio 3 of Cups will perform at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 7, at Unitarian Universalist Church, 835 W. College St. Cost is $10. See www.3ofcups.info.

Local Sounds Magazine

Wild Heart

Local Sounds Magazine - March 1, 2010 - by Rick Tvedt
(Read this article at the publication's web site)

Tracy Jane Comer Joins Wild Heart

Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and recording artist Tracy Jane Comer recently joined popular Madison-area Top 40 Country group Wild Heart. Comer plays guitar, keys, and fiddle and sings (backup and some lead) in her new role with the band.

Comer has received many international song writing awards as well as winning the MAMAs' 2008 Instrumentalist of the Year, plus nominations for Folk/Americana Performer of the Year in 2007, Best Acoustic Artist in 2004 and 2005, Best Acoustic Album in 2004 and 2005. She also received a notable spot in Guitar Player magazine in June 2009.

WildHeart exploded onto the music scene in 1993 winning the Country Pickoffs contest. They've played festivals and shared the stage with national acts such as Ricky Van Shelton and Hal Ketchum.

Since then, Wild Heart has traveled the state to become a regional favorite ; equally comfortable performing for large festivals, community events or at the local hang out. WildHeart has always delivered strong lead vocals with the amazing TC, Preacher, and now Comer, but the latter's addition also allows for tremendous three-part harmonies.

logo - The Isthmus / The Daily Page (Madison WI)
Wild Heart

Madison Music Scene & Heard - by Bob Koch on Monday 01/11/2010
(Read this article at the publication's web site)

Any band that is still going strong after a decade and a half is likely to have seen some lineup changes. Madison Top 40 country cover band Wild Heart will take the stage with a new player on Saturday, Jan. 16, at Tricia's Country Corners -- local songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tracy Jane Comer. In addition to her solo work, Comer has been a part of trios such as Likely Stories and Sticky Fingers and various other projects, but hasn't been seen on local stages as often during the recent past. She says the decision to explore a new musical direction came during that time away.

"I was at a crossroads in my musical life, just coming out of an almost two year lull in my music career due to a string of illnesses/deaths among my family and friends down south plus a surgery of my own in March," Comer says. "I decided during this time off that I did not want to resume traveling/touring as a solo artist. Plus, I have been bogged down with emotional turmoil and loss and have not written any new material in a long while."

Comer says that besides songwriting, just playing music is important and offers the chance to choose from a wealth of great material by other writers. "I knew I wanted to find opportunities to sing with others. Hearing about the Wild Heart opening, I didn't hesitate for a moment to audition as it seemed like this was just what I needed to get excited about doing music again. And the timing was perfect.

"The best part is that my Aunt Jane, who passed away in August, would have been thrilled to hear this news since she was a country music fan. She was my life hero who is responsible for me being a musician at all -- hence my inclusion of my middle name in my music career. So that was another signal that this would be the right move for me," Comer says.

Wild Heart guitarist Preacher Man says Comer will take the place of vocalist Carmel Willett. "She is an incredible talent and we definitely miss her. However, Tracy provides us with some awesome opportunities and brings new aspects to the band that we are very excited about!"

Bassist Jeffrey Root says while the band's focus will remain on playing the latest hot country hits, they will also continue to introduce some new material of their own. "Since most of us have a background in original music we get the bug to work on original songs from time to time. We've done some writing and recording and definitely intend to devote more time to that in the future."

Showtime is at 9 p.m., and Tricia's Country Corners is east of Monona, if following either Buckeye Road or Femrite Drive out of town (it's where the two meet up).

LIKELY STORIES CD (self-titled) - Tracy Jane Comer, Nancy Rost, and Dave Schindele

logo - The Isthmus / The Daily Page (Madison WI)The Isthmus, Aug. 21 2009
Review of LIKELY STORIES self-titled CD Review

(See www.likelystories.us for more about this side project with Nancy Rost and Dave Schindele)

Tracy Jane Comer, Dave Schindele and Nancy Rost have teamed up to make the most creative concept album to come out of Madison so far this year.  

Likely Stories is a collection of nine musical tales making up three rounds of sonic turn-taking by the songwriters. It's a structure that highlights the stylistic breadth of the record.

Schindele's acoustic piano is dreamy, rumbling with restlessness on 'A Matter of Time.' Later, he employs Comer's brooding cello on 'Nicole.' That track is an odd but gorgeous prayer for Nicole Kidman: 'Hope there's a there for you Nicole / Without a role, it's just you and your soul cast together.'  Rost's jazzy arrangements are featured in 'Golden Gate,' about San Francisco suicide jumpers. Comer's 'Yellow Bike' is pure folk charm, looking back on a poor but happy childhood in a seaside town.

The album's execution ultimately fulfills the ambitious concept, making Stories a local release to be reckoned with.

- Rich Albertoni
http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/article.php?article=26696

Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin State Journal - BACKSTAGE - Sunday, January 25, 2009
Read it on WSJ web site

(BACKSTAGE is a series featuring notable Madison area musicians)

Name: Tracy Jane Comer

Talent: Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, cello, piano, dulcimer, fiddle, electric bass)

My influences are:
Everything from plainchant to pop - I love a variety of music from all over the map.

I knew this was going to be my calling when:
I first touched a piano, probably, at about age 5. But I knew it for sure when I joined a school choir as a preteen. To be working all together, blending voices to create something beautiful and cool and just plain fun was an indescribable experience, and it gave me a reason to get up and go to school each day.

The oddest thing to occur at a show was
: Well, "odd" in a very cool way! I was doing a show for the Art in the Barn series in Fitchburg a couple of years ago, singing a song with a somewhat political message, and about the time I sang the words "... I think all the battles could be won if we'd become instruments of peace," a dove came in and flew around the barn.

I wish:
That being an "indie musician" actually meant there would be time to play and write music, instead of having to spend 24/7 on marketing.

You can find my music at:
 www.tracyjanecomer.com or any number of other places that you can link to from there.

logo - The Isthmus / The Daily Page (Madison WI)

3/20/2006: The Isthmus

The Isthmus posted a play-by-play narrative of the MAMAs (Madison Area Music Awards) event and included this picture of Tracy performing with Subvocal:

Tracy Jane Comer at the Madison Area Music Awards, 2006
March 2006 - Tracy performing with Subvocal at the MAMAs, Wisconsin Union Theater

From the article:
"With the clock at 8:40 pm, Subvocal and Tracy Jane Comer take to the stage for the second performance of the night. The first song is low-key but intense, with the two female vocalists filling the theater. The second song, featuring a pair of cellists, is a torchy number with dueling male and female vocals. They end ten minutes later to a big round of applause."


QUIETLY THERE album cover - Tracy Jane Comer

Reviews of Quietly There
(2004 Release)

 

Smother.Net E-zine, Nov. 2004
EDITOR'S PICK: Tracy Jane Comer, Quietly There

Well it's not going to be 'quietly there' for much longer for Tracy Jane Comer. This singer/songwriter is key to moving the whole darn genre forward. Her sound is mature and soaked with talent throughout this dynamic take of contemporary acoustic rock that's not afraid to plug things in on occasions. Rather than a brooding self-obsessed nuance of an album that so many of her fellow musicians put out, Quietly There is an upbeat swingin' album that sheds pathos for a brighter side of things. Soon I have no doubt that Wisconsin will be known for more than just cheese and Brett Favre's Packers - they'll be known as the lynchpin holding the doors open to soft rock in the singer/songwriter format. Superb.

-J. Sin, Smother.Net E-zine, November 2004

Evolution of Media E-zine, Dec. 2004

Good lyric writing has become something of a lost art in the mainstream and it's encouraging to see that there are artists who take their craft seriously. Tracy Jane Comer, if her second album Quietly There is any indication, is such an artist. In the tradition of people like Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega, Rickie Lee Jones and the Indigo Girls, Tracy Jane Comer writes songs of different shades and colors: a hybrid I've dubbed 'chamber folk' as in her fine cover of the Beatles' 'Eleanor Rigby' and originals 'Take Me To The Mountain' and 'Quietly There'; and a kind of folky jazz that shines through in 'My Own History' and 'Just One Person.' Tracy has a clear, highly emotional voice that brings out the best in her words and gives one a feeling of emotional uplift that epitomizes only the greatest music (the aforementioned women for one set of examples, and unsung singers like Carlene Carter and Christy McWilson for a couple more examples). The lyrical and emotional jackpot on Quietly There is achieved by 'This Losing Game,' as potent an anti-war song as I've heard this year and right up there in the 2004 protest pantheon with Tom Waits and R.E.M. Give Tracy's album a spin, if for nothing other than 'This Losing Game.'
- E.O.M. (Evolution of Media) E-zine, December 2004

Rick's Cafe, Dec. 2004

Tracy Jane Comer's Quietly There is a stunning showcase of both her lovely voice and her impressive skill on a variety of instruments. Comparisons to other adult contemporary artists such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, and Dar Williams are inevitable, though she displays more range of style than any of them. Which means that anyone who picks up this CD expecting standard adult contemporary fare will likely be thrown by the jazz of 'My Own History,' the classical-leaning piano and full orchestral swell of 'Pathetic Fallacy,' or the two gorgeous finger-picked instrumentals 'Movin' in the Right Direction' and 'Rondo.' Given her background in everything from classical to rock, including theater, choral, sacred and folk, the spectrum of genres covered shouldn't be a surprise. Much of this album seems to have been guided by her producer/manager/co-writer/fellow musician...Randy Green. His production is full and smooth, ensuring every instrument is heard regardless of how many are in the mix. Credited as co-writer on six tracks, he also contributes guitars and keyboards. The guest musicians, Rock Williams (vintage drums and percussion), Steve Kasprzak (upright bass), Bryan Husk (tenor saxophone), Candace Kreitlow (orchestral harp), Katie Waldren (hammered dulcimer), are all well used. Williams in particular makes an impression on the childhood snapshot 'Yellow Bike,' a vivid recounting that recalls [Dar] Williams' 'The Ocean.' His hand-drum work propels without overpowering...Originally from North Carolina, [Tracy] has made herself at home in the Wisconsin music scene. She is also a favorite and frequent guest of the local media such as radio's WORT and Wisconsin Public Radio, and TV's Urban Theater (UPN14) and Worth Watching and Perpetual Commotion on WYOU...This record is a strong statement that seems determined to reach beyond a local audience."  
- Kiki Scheuler, Rick's Café Magazine (Madison, WI) December 2004 issue

International Acoustic Music Awards, January 2005

"Tracy Jane Comer's song 'This Losing Game' is a thoughtful, well-produced and haunting anti-war song, worthy of the great Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell. Come to think of it, Tracy Jane's voice is just as powerful and clear as those ladies as well.
This is a wonderful work and worthy of a good listen. Visit her website at www.tracyjanecomer.com to see her schedule and to pick up a few great tunes."
-International Acoustic Music Awards, January 2005

Indie-Music.com, February 2005

This woman never does anything halfway. No one will ever accuse Tracy Jane Comer of holding back. A song may start quietly, and you may think you know where it's going, but then it rises and fills the air with added notes from a cello or sax and wraps itself around you. Even the sad songs lift the spirit because of the magic in the sound. And the voice isn't half bad, either. Comer can sound pure and angelic on classical compositions like 'Take Me to the Mountain' and 'Silent Care' -- on the latter, her voice rises at times like a cry to the heavens and dips smoothly down at others like a whisper to the ocean. In tracks like 'Just One Person,' she is steamy and seductive, a vibe enhanced by the vintage instruments (stand-up bass, tenor sax) weaving old-school jazz around her voice. About halfway through the CD, she suddenly takes a very 60s protest approach and wraps it in those magic chord progressions and the mournful sound of the cello, creating a pointed, emphatic anti-war song called 'This Losing Game.'

At times, she turns off the vocal mic and lets the music capture the listener completely. My personal favorite of the instrumentals is 'Movin' in the Right Direction,' an ambling, acoustic stroll down a country road. As for the others, 'Yellow Bike' is a standout. It's a lovely folk ballad about a childhood of imagination and happiness despite the poverty. There's magic in the reminiscing and the warm acoustic chords. I like how she works in a few lines about looking back at it from an adult's perspective:
I wonder why I just can't understand
why I'm sad that I was happy then ...
But I don't think that it occurred to me
Life wasn't all that it should be ... we just lived ...

Comer can belt out anthems of independence and quietly croon songs of reflection and philosophy. And she puts every musical possibility into those songs, adding more voices to give more depth to the harmony, switching to a minor key to take the song in a new direction, dropping to a near-whisper for dramatic effect. Each song has its own subtle majesty. She's probably an obsessive perfectionist in the studio, but everyone involved can probably forgive her when the result is this unforgettable.
-Jennifer Layton, Indie-Music.com
Read it on their site

Kweevak's Tracks, March 2005

Tracy is a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist proficient on cello, fiddle, guitar and piano. Comer has been compared to Joni Mitchell, Dar Williams and other well-known talents. The comparisons are well deserved as Tracy is a versatile vocalist who writes compelling, visual songs. Although her music is acoustic based the arrangements go much deeper, culling from classical, folk, jazz, pop and rock. Quietly There features thirteen originals and a poignant cover of The Beatles 'Eleanor Rigby'. Randy Green is responsible for the crisp, clean production allowing each instrument to come through as Tracy's rich vocals flow to the top. Randy also co-wrote some of the songs and plays guitars and keyboards. Other stellar guest players contribute drums, percussion, harp, dulcimer and sax. Unlike some acoustic records that rely on a few simple chords, Comer's work is diverse and dynamic. Upon each listen more subtle sounds and styles unfold. Comer's music ranges from spirited instrumentals such as 'Movin' in the Right Direction' to beautiful ballads such as 'My Own History' and 'Yellow Bike' - a glimmering song about growing up poor but still enjoying life. Tracy Jane Comer is a musical force and Quietly There ranges from intimate storytelling to animated arrangements!
-Laura Turner Lynch, Kweevak.com, March 2005

Midwest Bands.com, March 2005
Musicianship: 9.5 out of 10  

The musicianship on Quietly There is near perfection.  Tracy Jane Comer has incredible guitar skills as well as those who accompanied her on this disc.  Her acoustic guitar sings as crystal clearly as her voice; if the entire disc was just Tracy on her instrument, it would be well worth listening to.  (Rondo) is a prime example of that.  *She plays a mean cello, too!*   Vocally, Tracy cannot be pegged.  Her voice is distinct; however, for the sake of the review I will tell you the 3 very different artists that crossed my mind while listening.  First, (Yellow Bike, Hello) she has the vocal sound comparable to a young Joni Mitchell (think 'Both Sides Now' and you'll see what I mean) which gives her vocals a bit of a retro feel at times.  Her voice also has the haunting quality (Take Me to the Mountain) similar to Maire Brennan (Clannad - Enya's sister) and finally she has a more contemporary Sarah McLachlan feel to her music (Baggage, Eleanor Rigby).  Now, if that doesn't confuse you and make you want to hear for yourself, I don't know what will.

Songwriting - 10 out of 10  Tracy's biggest talent, however, lies in her incredible songwriting (thus is the only reason for the 9.5 in the Musicianship section!).  From complex melodies and lyrics (Pathetic Fallacy) to simpler 'catchy' tunes (My Own History) her versatility is endless.  There is a cover of Lennon & McCartney's 'Eleanor Rigby' right in the middle of all of Tracy's originals and honestly, her songwriting holds up excellently!  Intelligent, interesting and moving are words that come to mind.  

Sound Quality/Professionalism - 10 out of 10  There isn't really too much I need to elaborate on in this section.  It is an extremely professionally produced Indie album.  Everything sounds balanced and complimentary and the songs are arranged in a very appealing order.  Great job.

Packaging: 9.5++ out of 10  The packaging of Quietly There is well done.  A few pictures of Tracy, acknowledgement, credits, and BEST OF ALL: LYRICS!  It's so wonderful to be able to read every word and see as well as hear the incredible songwriting skills of Tracy.

Favorite Tracks:
Take Me to the Mountain
Movin' in the Right Direction
Quietly There
Baggage
*Stand out Track - Rondo

Overall Rating: 10+ out of 10   
Rather high rating, I know.  I guess I feel the need to stress the depth and care that went into Quietly There by high numbers, because musical talent is so hard to put into words at times.  Tracy Jane Comer's compositions are poetic, melodic, moving, thought provoking and soothing to the spirit.  To me, that means she has achieved great success in creating this wonderful art known as music.  She seems to possess all qualities she needs to achieve great success in her chosen profession.  However, you don't have to just take my word for it.  In fact, Quietly There is up for 'Best Acoustic Album' in the upcoming Madison (WI) Area Music Awards (to be held March 26, 2005).  Hmmm.  Maybe I am not crazy after all!
-Jen Lush, Midwestbands.com, 3/22/05

 

B Section, Newsletter of the Madison Songwriters Group, March 2005

MSG member Tracy Jane Comer has more than a beautiful voice; she's also a great instrumentalist. She plays the guitar, cello and piano with great skill. This record successfully showcases her musical touch, with a lineup of great backing instrumentalists. I especially liked the first number, the upbeat "My Own History," which uses some fun wordplay:
"I'll write a novel / I'll write a song /
I'll write a check / Right a wrong /
I'll write an e-mail, or a memo, or a steamy love note / I'll sit right down and write my write-in vote."

I also enjoyed the second song, "Yellow Bike," about growing up poor but happy. There are some fine instrumentals on here, especially "Movin' in the Right Direction." And "Take Me to the Mountain," by Comer and Randy Green, has the comfortable feel of a well-worn gospel number. Comer has a way with ballads, and puts them forward with ease and charm. This is a most excellent album, a job well done and an album Comer should feel proud to shop around. Quietly There was produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Randy Green.

- Aaron Nathans for B Section (newsletter of the Madison Songwriters Group), March 2005

GoGirlsMusic.com, April 2005

It's no surprise that Tracy Jane Comer is a nominee for Best Acoustic Album by the 2005 Madison Area Music Awards. With such an intense talent, this folk singer is destined for great things! Tracy Jane Comer was touched by a beautiful gift of music. Her passion, pure emotion and mellifluous flowing voice blend this work of art for pure pop/folk music. Tracy is not keeping a muted silence in her release, "Quietly there"; instead she's pulling all the stops in this toe-tapping delight! She's creating her own "herstory" in this CD, so all we can do is sit back, relax and let her overcome us with her talent!
Hit Picks: "Take Me to the Mountain" and "This Losing Game"
-Heather Corcoran, GoGirlsMusic.com

Music Shopper Forum, May 2005 (Based in UK)
Our Rating: 90 out of 100

[Excerpts] "...A multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter, Tracy Jane is a long way from the manufactured unit-shifters we are all so sick of - a serious and talented performer, she has put this together with the help of producer Randy Green, a couple of decent session musicians, and almost nobody else. On this basis alone, this album is an impressive achievement. But it does more than just take an independent stand against the major labels. Opener 'My Own History' is a bit of a red herring - a cheerfully up-tempo Cajun track...From here on, things pick up no end with a well-judged blend of ballads, instrumentals and harder-edged moments, featuring some genuinely first-rate writing and production. And there really are some cracking tracks on here - the Hammond-driven attitude of 'Baggage' is tremendous...The country/jazz crossover of 'Just One Person' is similarly impressive, its complex 5/4 rhythm and plaintive saxophone work succeeding where many a proper jazz recording has failed. There is real power, too, in ballads like 'This Losing Game', a long, slow-burning effort that builds and builds with startling proficiency...The only non-original track, a cover of 'Eleanor Rigby', kind of sums the album up, really. It's hard to fault the choice of such a perfect track...it is a fantastic version, retaining the strings but adding tastefully to the original ideas - not necessarily an improvement but a very worthy alternative. The same goes for much of the other material - it's not quite as radical as the stuff being created by the alt-country crowd, but for all its comfortable familiarity, it is exceptionally well done, in the same way that Nanci Griffith or Alison Krauss albums tend to be...I can honestly say that this will be getting a healthy number of repeat plays..."
- Jimbo, for Music Shopper, May 2005

Music Maker Magazine, July/July 2005, Issue No. 85 (UK print publication)

In your mind, take yourself across the pond for a moment and stick the point of your compasses in the town of Madison, Wisconsin. Draw a circle with a radius of 150 miles and you'll find the stamping ground of Tracy Jane Comer.

Originally from North Carolina, Tracy has established a reputation in the Lake Michigan area, gigging extensively and appearing on local radio and TV broadcasts. Forays outside her home base would it seem have been only occasional.

This may not be the case much longer as this is an excellent second album. I haven't actually heard the first but "Quietly There" is certainly a musically mature product. The front cover shows a photo of Tracy "A la country diva" like Faith Hill or Chely Wright but one only has to play the first few tracks to be struck by the excellent musicianship and variety of style on offer. She has absorbed influences from across the musical spectrum - folk, country, pop, jazz, classical - she is a graduate of music and the classical influence shows through both in the economy and use of musical structures. Tracy writes her own songs and is not content to use just the standard verse/chorus pattern.

She plays guitar, keyboard, violin and cello (all excellently) and uses her voice as another instrument in the texture, double tracking very effectively in places.

She is ably assisted by her co-writer and producer Randy Green who has not only enhanced the songs by contributions on guitar and keyboard but also produced the album with clarity and just the right balance. The line up is completed by bass and drums which do a good job on underpinning the songs and some unusual touches like the use of a hammer dulcimer.

Tracy's lyric writing is very clever - she paints with words using light and shade most effectively - the output is, in general, more optimistic than many of the current crop of singer songwriters, although she is equally able to explore the darker and more brooding side of human emotion, while in other places injecting some wry humour.

The opening track "My Own History" is a jazzy number all about setting one's own agenda - the jazz influence returns later on "Just One Person" which starts off with a clever Bruebeck style five/four intro. "Yellow Bike" is a folky piece of nostalgia about childhood in the seventies when life was much poorer but much simpler. "This Losing Game" is a poignant anti-war song, difficult to say anything original in this genre, yet the view from the personal perspective makes it work. (I love the cello on this!) "Movin' in the Right Direction" and "Rondo" showcase sensitive yet powerful playing of her Taylor guitar. "Pathetic Fallacy" puts me in mind a bit of Dar Williams' "Calling the Moon"; "Drive for Miles" makes clever use of analogy.

The title track is a real belter - a pop ballad with a great hook on the chorus. I could just imagine one those big duets with Elton John or Hal Ketchum on this. Could easily do big things given the right amount of airplay. Tracy wrote or co-wrote all of the material except Eleanor Rigby - this was a good choice to include as it suits the style of the backing musicians on the album.

An excellent musician and writer - it would be good if she could climb aboard a jumbo and visit these shores sometime!
-Dave Taylor, for Music Maker Magazine Issue No. 85 June/July 2005 (www.tradmusic.net), from the U.K.

Maximum Ink - Slipped Discs column, by John Noyd, January 2006 (Madison, WI)

...Many years ago, when I was a teenager living out East, there was an explosion of incredible singer-songwriter albums. One in particular fascinated me with fresh, sensitive lyrics and organic arrangements oozing optimistic visions. Jimmie Spheeris' Isle of View stirred poetic jazz into orchestrated folk with genuine empathy. Converting my favorite records into CDs I discovered too late that while Jimmie's recordings had been made into CDs, they were now out of print. I spent years looking at used copies on eBay that went for an extravagant $50 to $100. Then my wife got an Ipod for her birthday in November and I discovered that Isle was available for $10 at iTunes—Or, even better, could be gotten for nothing at emusic.com if you were willing to trade it for some of your free trial downloads. Suddenly, what once seemed unattainable was easily within reach. Listening to it for the first time in decades, I thought, "They don't make songs like these anymore..." I was soon proven wrong twice within one week. Possessing an intensity of feeling fused to a sophisticated mix of musical styles, both Pinetop Seven's cinematic, "the night's bloom," (www.pinetopseven.com) and multi-instrumentalist Tracy Jane Comer's sterling, "Quietly There," (www.tracyjanecomer.com) display Spheeris' compassionate grandeur. Pinetop's strings, marimbas and guitars unfold fascinating vignettes with jazz, folk-rock and chamber pop grace, while Tracy yields a strong voice reminiscent of Joan Baez to create heartfelt jazz-folk journeys that soar soulfully. Whether as discs, records, tapes or MP3s, check them out.
http://www.maximumink.com/articles.php?articleId=866

SongsAlive! - Review of Quietly There, Apr. 2006

What a delight to kick back and listen to these 14 beautifully produced and compelling tracks, that ebb and flow from fast to slow, complimenting the songwriting and voice of Tracy Jane Comer. While each song has it's own breath of life, Tracy Jane's voice is as diverse on each track as the story told. Nominated for Best Acoustic Album for 2005 by the Madison Music Awards in Wisconsin, this album really delivers touching melodies, powerful vocals and textured arrangements as well as bare to the bones acoustic style that capitalize on the Tracy Jane's diverse ability to tell a good story with her fresh lyrics. (There are instrumental tracks, "Rondo" and "Moving in the Right Direction", so no lyrics there if you're looking for them!) The title track, "Quietly There", is "so ready for radio" with a dynamic yet emotional vocal and full production to enhance the lyrics that sent chills up my spine. From the rousing start of "My Own History", to the reflective end track of "Drive for Miles", Tracy Jane Comer packs a wallop of sound in between - including a daring cover of the Beatles "Eleanor Rigby" - with strings to highlight the intense social commentary of the words from two of the great songwriters of our time, Lennon and McCartney. But this 3rd cd release from Tracy Jane Comer is all about her talent and songwriting artistry - the ability to tell a story and sing it with conviction and love.

Quietly There might be the title, but Tracy Jane Comer is due to make some very loud noise once these songs are heard and be "Internationally Here."
- Toni K.

Three songs received Honorable Mentions from the Peace Driven Songwriting Contest, May 2006

Their comments on each song:
" 'Bring Me Your Peace' [from Second Wind album] has a soothing melody that brings the listener to a calm state of mind.  Songs should move people, and this song has the gift to do just that.

There is a strong connection vocally and lyrically in 'This Losing Game (Goodnight Moon)' [from Quietly There album].  The song has a nice melody with beautiful key changes and an intriguing story is told throughout.  Nice job!

'In This New Year (Instruments of Peace)' [not yet out on CD]  has a great message that challenges us to be the change we wish to see in the world.  It has honest lyrics and a powerful, yet graceful delivery."

Review of "Quietly There" posted on CD Baby by Jim Bohn, Sept. 2006

Classy, sophisticated, exceptional, and beautiful. Tracy Jane fits in the class of exceptional artists like Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and even Joan Baez. This is heartfelt poetry with all the soul, sweetness and pathos that only a true artist can bring. The combination of expert guitar work and vocals on "Yellow Bike" are nothing short of amazing (I've seen her do this song live, and it is a remarkable thing to watch.) Her haunting, beautiful voice leaves the impression that she has taken a long journey, and returned to tell wonderful tales. Tracy Jane Comer is a top shelf performer.

 

WAER-FM, Syracuse NY

There is not a bad track on this CD [Quietly There]…one of the best acoustic albums out there.
-Eric Cohen, WAER-FM, Syracuse NY

 

Listener review of "Quietly There"
Field Stark, professional musician in Madison WI

Tracy Jane sings with a heartfelt voice which is as full of expression and magic as her lyrics. One of my favorite songs “Drive for Miles” takes you for a ride, drops you off, and entices you with the charm of a good story. Her song "Yellow Bike" paints an achingly beautiful picture of the road back to childhood. With her clear, melodic guitar accompaniment, her sound is rich and her message striking. Because of her ability to move seamlessly between different instruments and musical styles, each song is truly different and helps define this complex and extremely talented artist.


SECOND WIND album cover - Tracy Jane Comer

Reviews of Second Wind
(2002 Release)


B Section, Newsletter of the Madison Songwriters Group

Tracy Comer's new CD Second Wind is an impressive achievement…Tracy uses her clear, pure vocals and fine guitar work to good effect on these thirteen tracks contemporary folk…Throughout the disc, Tracy shows off a deft touch on the guitar and good use of cello, hammered dulcimer and various percussion instruments. Her voice may be the best instrument though, always well-toned and showing a nice melisma that isn't overused. Tracy also has a way of extending a melody through a lyric so that there are no awkward breaks to the rhythm or clumsy wordings, something that must have been all the more challenging to overcome in the collaborative songs. The sound quality is quite good…the vocals and instruments are crisp and clear throughout. Overall Second Wind is an excellent accomplishment, especially for a solo debut. Tracy is a definite asset to MSG and the Madison scene. We should all look forward to her next disc and hope it won't be long in coming.
- B Section (newsletter of the Madison Songwriters Group), April 2003

Splendid E-Zine, March 2004

"…[Second Wind is] soothing and expertly produced, without a wrong note in the thing..."
- Matt Pierce

WYOU-TV - Worth Watching Show

"[Second Wind] is a really good recording. It's on par with anything you can buy done by the big studios, and I was very impressed with the quality of the young lady who is on it. So I said, 'Come on down, we'll do a show,' and she said, 'Sure.
-Dennis Fawcett, Host of Worth Watching, WYOU-TV Madison, October 2003


 

General Press & Media Quotes

 

"Add this name to the list of singer-songwriter sages that includes Nanci Griffith, Dar Williams, and Patty Larkin. A perennial local fave in Madison, WI, Comer--who also records with the group Sticky Fingers--earns deserved plaudits for her spare, wistful lyrics and crisp, folky guitar. "
 -Editor's Pick - Download.com

 

"Tracy Jane Comer's sparkling acoustic folk is reminiscent of classic balladeers like Joan Baez, complete with lyrics that combines social consciousness with personal issues. But Comer's willingness to expand her sound with such elements as harp, dulcimer, and percussion gives her songs a depth that many folkies lack. MTV recently used a track from Comer's second album, 2004's Quietly There, as soundtrack material for their reality show Made, which should hopefully expand her fanbase beyond the folk-club circuit."
-The Onion

 

"...Tracy is a rare talent with touches of Kate Rusby, Gillian Welch and Joan Baez...There is something about Tracy's music that really sticks in my mind. Perhaps it's because she actually has something to say. "
-Paul Pinfield, CalmCast Podcast

 

"Tracy Jane Comer's music can be described as acoustically superb. Her mesmerizing vocals, poetic lyrics, along with her skills on piano and guitar yield an extremely enjoyable mix."
-MusicPlaces.com  

 

Midwest Folk"...One thing I really appreciate as an audience member...is when I find out that the performer's words and actions on stage match exactly how they are away from an audience. There are many genuine folk artists in the midwest. I recently sat down to spend time with two of the finest: Joe Jencks and Tracy Jane Comer...Tracy Jane Comer grew up in North Carolina and her roots of ingrained respect and hospitality (as well as a hint of accent) come through her conversation and music as well. Her background in music, her computer aptitute, and her positive approach to life have all contributed to an increasingly successful folk music career. Onstage she humbly switches instruments as she sets up the next song with some personal background. Her respect for the audience and unassuming nature indicate how it is she would like to be seen: as a talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who is rightly matched with her competent business sense and who is aptly using her God-given talents fruitfully."
-Terry Corr, in introduction to feature article/interview with Tracy in Midwest Folk magazine, Winter 2004 issue

 

"[Tracy] is already showing signs of future success as a multi-flavored contemporary acoustic talent."
-Mad Folk News (Madison Folk Music Society newsletter), July 2004

 

"Tracy's voice is warm, rich...she's a polished performer...."
-Jonathan Overby, Host of Higher Ground (Wisconsin Public Radio)

 

"Comer's thoughtful, intelligent and sometimes humorous songs, coupled with her clear, honest voice and heartfelt presentation, are a delight to the ears and offer a refreshing and satisfying musical alternative."
-The Clayton (NC) News-Star, August 2002

 

"Honest and poignant...a wonderful talent."
-The Music Loft concert series, Red Wing, MN

  "A musician through and through."
-Dan Herman, Radio Crystal Blue
 

3/20/2006:  Newspaper coverage of the Madison Area Music Awards in the Wisconsin State Journal had this to say:
" The live performances of the evening went a long way to show that Madison does indeed deserve an awards show....The organizers' idea to mix groups of past MAMA winners together for the live performances was a gamble that paid off well with stand-out performances by Tracy Jane Comer backed up by Subvocal..."

 

8/11/2007 Show Review posted on Wisconsin Bands web site - See http://www.wibands.com/smf/index.php?topic=673.0

Well I've been to see bands/artists in bars...taverns...beer tents...houses...barns...parking lots...but this was the first tour stop in a church.  I found the address of "Higher Grounds"  just as Animalien pulled next to me...We just looked at each other and laughed. After getting a good seat we listened to Tracy tune and soundcheck...Tracy played this show as a duo with her Sticky Fingers bandmate, Michael Bryant. Tracy really amazed me. What an incredible voice. Singing beautiful accoustic covers & originals, Tracy grabs your attention with her lovely folk vocal style that almost covers up the fact that she is playing so many different instruments. "Yawl" get ready for this list:  Tracy not only sings but plays guitar, cello, fiddle, keyboards, and of coarse the always popular hammered dulcimer!! I have to say I've never really seen a hammered dulcimer before and now I WANT ONE!! ** How long does it take to tune a hammer dulcimer? ** Tracy and Michael worked well together and it makes me wonder just how much fun a Sticky Fingers show would be? Both Tracy and Michael told some fun stories between songs but my favorite was the Riverboat Captain story. I guess ya just have to go to a show to hear the cool stories. This was a fun show for me.  I love the "band" scene but its nice to see someone go up and let their heart do the talking without all the amps and stuff. Tracy was nice enough to give me her latest CD called Quietly There and she also gave me a Sticky Fingers CD. Tracy has several CDs so stop by one of her shows sometime. She has several Madison area dates so be sure to see her sometime. You can get all her latest dates at: www.tracyjanecomer.com or stop in at MySpace at: www.myspace.com/tracyjanecomer
I'm glad that some of you had heard of Tracy before. Lucky said that "Tracy is North Carolina's gift to Madison" and he is right. We are all lucky to have an artist so talented in our state like TRACY JANE COMER. (insert smiley playing hammer dulcimer)