Born and raised in the skillet of Far Northern California, Tracy Jean Manuel is your average clarinetist-turned-jazz-drummer-turned-alt-folk-singer/songwriter. As a full-time-student-turned-art-major, she’s turned duct tape into dresses and tea bags into tapestries. Whether or not any of it turns out as planned is another story.

Writing and performing original music haphazardly described as post-Americanatronica, Manuel treads the fine, invisible line between the worlds of obstinate indie and timeworn, traditional songwriting. Some songs echo through the empty space between conventional genres; others clatter back from the depths of the generation gap. Ladled and served together, they form a catalog of New West American roots music thoroughly steeped in the down-home, tracked through the Calabama dirt, aired out under the pines, and dished up under a variety of electronic sauces. They’re mulchy, yet unearthly. Dark. Spacious. With a subtle twang. Slightly tannic, smooth finish.

Halfway Decent (TJM's wholly self-produced, wholly DIY debut swooshily supported by the electronics of Greg Manuel), features a makeshift slew of eclectic ingredients including acoustic guitar, electric guitar, tenor ukulele, assorted percussion, various electronic seasonings, and nature sounds. The experimental venture offers an alternative take on traditional singer/songwriter processes as handmade folk tunes are left to roam their way through new, shimmering, digitally manipulated sonic environments. And considering the entire project was recorded in a living room on half a shoestring budget, a certain amount of labor and love can be reasonably expected.

Manuel’s other preoccupations and projects are varied and tend to involve erratic crossovers between the worlds of visual art, design, drums, tea, puns, bright green vultures, and any/all other things music in and around Redding, California. In addition to her solo work, she's often spotted playing drums with the fine folks of the local Jim Dyar Band.

You woke up in a fever
When you was just a kid
Brought you down to the floor, oh Lord
And you ain't ever been up since

But now you gotta, gotta, gotta find you
Somethin' that can pull you though
'Cause this is a bootstrap nation;
Ain't nobody pullin' for you

Your mama was the corporation
Your daddy love her through and through
Your daddy, he was blind ambition;
Tried to love her as a person too

One day, they sat you down
And they taught you everything they knew
That this is a bootstrap nation;
Ain't nobody pullin' for you

Your name's the only thing they gave you
Before they wrapped you up in fear
And prayed it'd be enough to save you
Before they handed you away down here

But you were born when the sky was torn;
Ain't ever seen it back to blue
And the world don't fit between your shoulder blades
Even if you woulda wanted it to
When them doors swing wide, every woman and child
And man had better know what to do
'Cause this is a bootstrap nation;
Ain't nobody pullin' for you

'Cause this is a bootstrap nation;
Ain't nobody pullin' for you

'Cause this is a bootstrap nation;
Ain't nobody pullin' for you.