“Calling it Adrian Thaws is saying you don’t really know me,” says Tricky, explaining the title of his 11th album.
“So many times people have tried to put a finger on me and every album I go to a different place.” It’s typical of one of music’s most unpredictable characters that the first album to bear his birth name is one of his least introspective. Adrian Thaws is a vivid, attention-grabbing set of songs which roamfrom hip hop to house, jazz to blues, rock to reggae. It was recorded in Tricky’s home studio in London, where he’s living again after almost two decades in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, and features an international crew of collaborators: Francesca Belmonte, Nneka, Mykki Blanco, Bella Gotti, Tirzah, Blue Daisy and Oh Land. It’s designed to be played loud. “I suppose this is my club/hip hop album,” he says. “I’ve only heard my music a few times in a club but I grew up in clubs from when I was 14: blues parties, hip hop clubs, a few raves. I’m not known for doing club music but this album has some club tracks on it — well, what I would consider club music.” Tricky makes complicated music because Adrian Thaws has had a complicated life. Born in 1968, he grew up in an extended family that was both black and white, urban and rural, containing strong women and volatile men. His choice of cover versions is revealing. Janet Kaye’s 1979 lovers rock classic Silly Games reminds him of his childhood in Bristol’s Knowle West district. London Posse’s 1990 track Gangster Chronicle harks back to his musical apprenticeship with the Wild Bunch and Massive Attack under the name Tricky Kid before he launched his solo career with 1995’s startling Maxinquaye. Tricky has always used music to explore the different, sometimes contradictory facets of his background and personality. “I can be anything I want when I do an album,” he says. “I could be a woman, I could be a man. It’s great to be able to be all these different things.”