Tricky's was always a name that was associated with originality. As an early collaborator of trip hop legends Massive Attack-he helped define a genre.

But Tricky has been on his own now for years. And he has had one album to live up to, 1995's solo debut Maxinquaye.

That solo release and the two that followed may have confused a casual listener. A good kind of confusion. A confusion that would win you over. Some songs didn't even feel like songs. Spoken word-which was not quite singing and not quite rapping-textured with thumping beats that were influenced by every genre imaginable. Eventually and surprisingly the sound grew on you and after time, amazed you. Tricky was on his way to worldwide mainstream recognition.

Enter his cognitive desire of this. And reciprocally enter a few horrible albums that ostensibly focused on how to reach this next level of fame. Tricky became irrelevant in a music world that glorified his past.

Live's front man Ed Kowalczyk joined him on a track on his 2001 album, Blowback and there was almost no chance for recovery.

It is not the recovery that you would have liked. Yet there is a recovery of sorts.

What does return is some of the passion that seemed to have fled the man in the late 90's.
Knowle West Boy is supposed to be biographical. And there is honesty within it.

It consists of solid songs that you will like from listen one. Something that once was unheard of on a Tricky release. Listen one used to be for adjusting your ears.

But immediate understanding isn't all bad. It just means after 14 years of Tricky, we...well...have heard it all before.

The opening track "Puppy Toy" if set behind a new popular movie trailer could easily be a hit here in America. It is blues influenced, but hip-hop is its master.

"Past Mistake" returns to the haunting beats of early solid efforts and infuses much of the pain he seemed to have tossed aside.

The record closes with the dark but simple gem "School Gates". And with it comes the realization that all tracks seem to have their own vibe. Therefore, it hardly gels as an album. And maybe we do live in a single song, iTunes based world, but certainly this was not what Tricky had in mind. Regardless, Knowle West Boy does sound much better than anything that Tricky has put his name on for years.

Not a return of the "Tricky Kid", but something that may get you excited for the next Tricky album. It is undoubtedly worth the listen. And that is saying something.

2.5 of 5 stars

AuthorNick Greto