Tracy McNeil
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Tracy McNeil

Victoria, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2009

Victoria, Australia
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Alternative Americana

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The first most of us heard of Canadian singer-songwriter Tracy McNeil was as one half of Fireside Bellows. Jordie Lane recognised the talent and integrity in Tracy’s music when he discovered her soon after she moved to Melbourne in 2007 and their No Time To Die record was a thing of welcome beauty conjuring echoes of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Since then both Lane and McNeil have returned to their solo ventures, the latter gathering herself a band – guitarist Matt Green, drummer Bree Hartley and bass player Rod Boothroyd – to help her work up, tour and record new material. The result is a more robust proposition than Fireside Bellows, the electric band lending McNeil’s music grit and muscle, and her voice emerging all the stronger with such backing. Add to that some tasty input from the likes of pedal steel guru Garrett Costigan, Steve Hesketh on Hammond organ, Liz Stringer on banjo and cello, and Greg Field on fiddle. There’s conviction in every note that McNeil sings, and that’s the first thing you hear on Fire From Burning. Then you begin to notice the more subtle qualities – the tone and touch of the playing, the craft of McNeil’s songwriting, the lyrical integrity, the emotive push and pull of the combined elements. Her songs ring with the kind of universal authority that lends them weight and gives the impression that McNeil is raiding some lost American troubadour songbook. To hear a trio of songs like ‘Uncharted Ground’, ‘Ride Home’ and ‘In My Time’ all in a row causes you to doublecheck their origins. Yes, all written and sung by Tracy McNeil.
- Martin Jones - Rhythms Magazine


The sad truth for Tracy McNeil, a Canadian in Melbourne, is she can’t get arrested for playing this music in Australia, as good as it is. Even in Britain and Europe there’s support for quality music that draws from strong roots in country and rock; story telling music that pulls you in with its melodies, keeps you interested with its yarns and brings you back with its emotional tug, the way McNeil does splendidly. Here, however, from radio and reviewers to bookers and the Australian music Prize, this music is dismissed as too traditional, lacking this year’s sounds, not pretty enough or too grown up. Ask former Sydeysider Bek-Jean Stewart and Liz Stringer who made two of the best albums of last year and were widely ignored, and Perry Keyes and Jamie Hutchings, who did the same. And, yes, that does include the heart of so-called country locally – have you heard the dull fair they play on Saturday Night Country? Meanwhile, McNeil’s album doesn’t strike a false note across it’s 11 songs, which all feel carefully constructed and irresistibly human. She’s got a voice just rugged enough to supply the guts but not yet worn out of it’s reservoirs of optimism. High Horse opens the record with an almost stern face but hands caught wanting to touch; To Spend A Day sounds bright but spits out lines such as “And I’d call it quits if I gave a shit” and Ride Home holds close. You know, you don’t have to wait ‘til she moves back to Canada to buy this.
- Bernard Zuel - Sydney Morning Herald


In 2007, Canadian Tracy McNeil released her debut solo record, Room Where She Lives, and then, three days later, relocated to Melbourne. She brought the record with her, of course, and it garnered a small amount of community radio play, not really raising too much of a blip on the extensive radar that busily covers the Melbourne music scene. The following year, though, McNeil teamed up with Jordie Lane to form Fireside Bellows, releasing the sublime No Time To Die, and her name began to spread. Now, three years later and with a swag of touring under her belt, we have McNeil’s second solo record, Fire From Burning, a record that has been some time in the making and one that sees some distinct differences as to how you’d have heard McNeil in the past. Room Where She Lives and No Time To Die were heavily drenched in that quiet country sound, lilting and wispy, pulling on heartstrings while stroking heads by firesides, whereas this new record is muscular and robust. It’s McNeil taking the same thread, but bulking it out and injecting a bit of rock in there, and this is a fine thing indeed. The title track is a great example of this, a song that rolls and tumbles with a finely executed, and quite raucous, guitar solo in the middle courtesy of Matt Green (who also plays with Lane), a song which coming as it does almost right at the beginning of the record, heralds something slightly out of the box for this budding and extremely talented artist. The rest of the album closes in around the title track, some slower numbers, some faster, but all to a tee stout and full of alt country bravado and wisdom, a fantastic record from a musician only moving upward.
- Samuel J.Fell - Inpress Magazine


Discography

Nobody Ever Leaves, 2014
Fire From Burning, 2011
Room Where She Lives, 2009

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Bio

As an artist caught between two continents - her Canadian homeland and her now permanent Australian residency - Tracy McNeils brand new album Nobody Ever Leaves is a fresh new sound that infuses North American roots with the heart and grit of Melbournes thriving alt.country scene.  Add to this the pop-soaked splendor of 1970s West-Coast California, and youll be coasting the musical landscape that McNeil calls home on her latest release.

McNeil made her introduction to the Melbourne music scene in 2008 when she teamed up with nationally acclaimed singer songwriter Jordie Lane to form the highly successful alt.country/folk duo Fireside Bellows. Their first and only LP release, No Time To Die received rave reviews across the country and remains one of Australias most sought after independent releases.

After going their separate ways to pursue solo careers, Tracy followed up No Time To Die with successful sophomore album Fire From Burning in 2011. This cemented her reputation as a respected and formidable force on the alt.country circuit, and saw her go on to support international artists such as Old Crow Medicine Show / Eilen Jewell / Mary Gautheir / Tony Joe White / Great Big Sea and local sweethearts The Audreys, among others.

Since then, some unavoidable ramblings in the key of life - car accidents, hospitals, immigration red-tape, the day to day highs and lows of working and making music, and a band that was teetering on the edge of collapse - have seen some line-up changes to her now five-piece band, ironically dubbed The GoodLife.  - These challenges have inevitably shaped the sound of the new album, which is a sonic leap from McNeils previous works in terms of style and production. Theres a gritty, road-worn pop sensibility to these songs that wasnt so apparent on previous releases. As always, McNeil navigates the listener through an undulating musical landscape that captures the imagination, defies time and place and speaks directly to the heart - And that will soon see her take to the road with a fresh and inspired outlook on her musical future, and the life of this brand new release. 

The album was recorded in 2013 by Steve Frasier at Little Gold Studios in Brunswick Vic. with The GoodLife; featuring Bree Hartley on drums, Matt Green (Simone Felice/Jordie Lane) on lead guitar, Rod Boothroyd on bass and Luke Sinclair (Raised By Eagles) on guitar. Special guests include Brendan McMahon (Saint Jude) on keys and Ted Kazan (Melbourne Ska Orchestra) on trumpet.

Produced by Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife. Mixed by Shane OMara at Yikesville and mastered by Ross Cockle at Sing Sing, Melbourne.

Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife will launch Nobody Ever Leaves on 28 June 2014 at the Northcote Social Club, with support from Small Town Romance and Dan Parsons. They will follow-up the launch with a national tour throughout July and August.

Band Members