Single Review: Everything But The Girl “Before Today”

Before Today
Year: 1996
Album: Walking Wounded

After Everything But the Girl hit the Top 40 with “Missing (Todd Terry Remix),” they chose to dig deeper into the dance genre. With “Walking Wounded,” they focused on drum ‘n bass, a subgenre of electronica.

On “Before Today,” Tracey Thorn is confronting her boyfriend and telling him that she “wants [his] love and wants it now.” Thorn has grown disillusioned with the relationship. However, as she sings, “my heart is that much harder now/and that’s what I felt before today,” it’s a necessary encounter and has been stirring inside her for a while now. Written by EBTG bandmate, Ben Watts, he develops a relationship from a single point of view. From his lyrics, the listeners know that Thorn’s boyfriend is not taking this conversation well. In the song, he tries to tell her about his life and continues to talk over her (“I don’t want your history/I don’t want that stuff/I won’t you to shut your mouth/that would be enough.”) However, the talk has made her feel in control. Will the relationship work out? Maybe, maybe not.

Watts, who also wrote the music, creates a strained atmosphere. In the first 15 seconds, the music is like the ticking chimes on a clock. By the second verse, it’s focused solely on the conversation. Drums are used here to emphasize to show Thorn’s growing confidence. In the bridge, the music slows to down to allow Thorn to relax and enjoy the weight that has lifted off her shoulders.

Tracey Thorn, like a great character actress, lets emotion tell the story. She gives the lyrics their strength by interpreting them a different way in each verse. She conveys a variety of emotions with her lovely alto: nervousness, calm and confidence. She is never whiny or defensive, which would be the option of many less experienced singers.

After 12 years of being a duo, Thorn and Watts have amazing synchronicity. They seem to know every beat and every note of the other.

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