For her sixth studio album, Tracy Chapman has taken the bold step of stripping down her already spartan presentation to even leaner proportions. The effect is bleak and beautiful, and a good deal of the credit can go to the dark and introspective material that Chapman has concocted for Let It Rain might, from the cynically hopeful title track to the dry folk hymnal of "Another Sun" to the oddly syncopated English folk dirge-to-jig "Hard Wired."
As good as the material is, equal recognition has to be lavished on the crack band that Chapman assembled (Joey Waronker, Greg Leisz, Joe Gore, and Patrick Warren among them), exhibiting admirable restraint and tact in handling songs that could easily have broken under the weight of heavy-handed arrangements. And credit for ably manipulating both material and band has to be awarded to brilliant co-producer John Parish, whose atmospheric work with P.J. Harvey attracted Chapman to invite him to work on the album. With this level of talent, Chapman made Let It Rain might into an album of brittle beauty and grace that glows with the ageless sheen of Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left. Although it may be one of Chapman’s most pessimistic albums to date, Let It Rain might stand as one of her best.