The greatest thing about Tricky is his effortless border-crossing ability. A self acclaimed champion of hip hop, he has no qualms about covering Siouxsie & the Banshees songs or working with The Gravediggaz as well as Damon Albarn. He throws anybody interesting, regardless of style into the mix. The presence of guest artists such as Cyndi Lauper and The Red Hot Chili Peppers on "Blowback" confirms this attitude, and also shows a new, very different Tricky.
The gloomy, menacing, record label-hating rapper has emerged from his dark underground headquarters on a new label, aiming for the charts with an album shock full of actual hits! Still reeling somewhat from the shock, I scan interviews for possible explanations. Apparently Tricky has been suffering from a hormonal imbalance disease called Candida for a number of years, which explains his strange moods and perhaps also his rather boring albums during the time (and here was I thinking, it was just the weed...).
A change of diet put an end to the problem, and "Blowback", finally after all these years, is the proper follow-up to his brilliant debut "Maxinquaye". Well, not quite. "Blowback" is nowhere near the dark ambience and goosebumps inducing paranoia, of what I still consider perhaps the most important album of the nineties.
But it's a very nice sequel to "Nearly God" (1996), another fine album teeming with guest singers like Neneh Cherry and Björk. Though one still misses Tricky's former collaborator Martina Topley Bird, he does work wonders with many of the singers present on "Blowback". Ed Kowalczyck of Live sings on the first single "Evolution Revolution Love", a song more firmly stuck in my mind than anything from the last three records.
Other obvious hits include a cover of the theme song of Wonder Woman (!) starring John Frusciante (of TRHCP) and "Diss Never", originally recorded with Alanis Morissette. Tricky himself doesn't make much noise, mostly just providing the musical backing for Ambersunshower and Jamaican toaster Hawkman, the dominating two voices on "Blowback". The moods are generally lighter and more playful than ever before. The calmest tracks are actually cute, if ambivalent love songs. Especially the sweet little tune "Your Name" with Ambersunshower cooing "one lives as two, two live as one, under the mango tree" in lullaby style. Is that a tear in my eye?