Over ten years and eight albums, the music of Tanya Donelly existed under several different guises. First there was the angular, tense art-rock of Boston, Massachusetts quartet Throwing Muses, who Tanya co-founded with her step-sister Kristin Hersh. She then temporarily moved on to play in Pixies bassist Kim Deal's other band The Breeders, before fronting her own outfit, Belly.
For such a fecund project, Belly curiously lasted just two albums. Their 1993 debut Star was an audacious marriage of girl-group classicism, off-kilter guitar-pop and folk-ballad purity confirmed the need to take centre stage. The album entered the UK chart at number two, and Belly concerts became sell-out events. Arriving two years later, King was a more commercial consolidation that Tanya admits was affected by "all the outside influences that come pouring in when you've had a successful record", and by in-fighting.
Released in November 1996, Tanya's first solo release was the four-track Sliding And Diving EP. Ten months later came an album, Lovesongs for Underdogs, which was as melodic and moving as all her previous music, but also brimmed with a newfound diversity, confidence and maturity.
Four years later, Tanya returned with the Sleepwalk EP, her first record since becoming a mother in 1999. Two of its four songs â€“ â€˜After Your Partyâ€™ and â€˜Days Of Graceâ€™ - were co-written with her husband Dean, who also played on the record alongside David Narcizo, Rich Gilbert and Buffalo Tom frontman Bill Janovitz. The EP was followed in February 2002 by Beautysleep: an album of stillness, depth and melodic certainty..
Recorded earlier in 2004 year near her home in Cambridge, MA, Whiskey Tango Ghosts found Tanya exploring new sounds, drawing on her love for Stephen Sondheim and country music to celebrate the simplicity of song and voice. Citing Lucinda Williams, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris as an influence, along with alt-country stars such as Neko Case and Wilco, the musical arrangements were boldly stripped-down, with the emphasis on Tanya's warm, resonant voice. Minimalist and melodic, each song was partly autobiographical. From the solitary swing of â€˜Divine Sweet Divideâ€™ to the mellow Hammond organ of â€˜The Centerâ€™, via the percussive â€˜Story Highâ€™, Whiskey Tango Ghosts was a sensual, hypnotic album and Tanya's most assured.