- I'll leave it up to the audio engineers to explain this in technical terms, but there appears to be a conflict in Tevo Howard's latest record: Tracey Thorn vs. vintage drum machines. The voice of Everything but the Girl appears here to add vocal colour to the Chicago producer's 2008-released "Without Me." In its pure form, the track works a piano-led classicist house angle, with the use of analog gear giving that somewhat muffled—but these days highly coveted—matte to the finish. This updated offering sees Thorn, arguably the most naturally adept vocalist to ever lend her voice to the dance music genre, pen an original song and slot clean and clear into "Without Me"'s flattened mid-range.
The original mix kicks a stone along a Chicago sidewalk at sunrise, before the scene cuts quickly to an FM radio and kitchen somewhere in middle England. Thorn's vocals ("If my heart tells me 'no'/I'll be cold as the snow") are immaculately delivered, and left largely dry effects-wise, but therein lies the issue. Her signature delivery simply swamps Howard's staunchly "authentic" approach to timbre, with the gritty percussion in particular suffering from the juxtaposition. Much better off is the Shield Edit Reprise which is largely shorn of the original's low-frequency drum content, leaving Thorn to exhale over Howard's poignant piano line and accompanying synthesis. However, an included four-minute Radio Edit should give the clearest indication of where Rebirth were pitching this mismatched meeting.
01. Without Me
02. Without Me (Shield Edit Reprise)
03. Without Me (Radio Edit)