TRACEY THOMAS - Diva, bimbo, feminist or folkie ... seems like a woman can't break into music nowadays without being typecast. And then there's Tracey Thomas. Hailing from the Rubber City and schooled in the rigors of rock and roll, Thomas has been escaping the shackles of categorization since going solo in 1994. In the ensuing years, the flame of Thomas' individuality has burned brightly not only in countless gigs, but on three independently released CDs, most recently 2000's Lights... She could have jumped on an industry bandwagon, but in the tradition of fellow Akronites such as Chrissie Hynde, Marti Jones and Rachel Sweet, Thomas took the road less traveled. And as her music (and our little invocation of Robert Frost) will attest, that has made all the difference. 'With Lights..., I kind of wanted to get away from not only the folk-rock thing, but every female singer with a guitar that has a bone to pick with somebody,' Thomas said in a recent moment of reflection. 'I just wanted to play music. 'I think there are many talented and prolific women who have a lot to say, but are being ignored in favor of navel baring teenage pop singers'. Thomas, on the other hand, is too complex and too original to be ignored. Grasping for the elusive phrase that will describe her unique sound, she offers 'chick folk rock with an edge,' but that doesn't describe the bluesy, earthen vibe of her club dates with a full band. Nor does it do justice to Lights..., an amalgam of the influences, emotions, spirits and divinity that make up Thomas' personality. The tones of Thomas' proverbial Lights... are varied. They shine brightly on cuts like 'Grace' and 'Divine Intervention,' where the author's spirituality takes center stage in both dark and upbeat ways, respectively. The beams dim on 'Change Your World,' 'You Don't Love Anymore,' and 'Pleasure and Pain,' each it's own cathartic exercise against the rigors of life. The warmth of sunlight returns, however, on such songs as 'Strange Bedfellows,' which belies it's title by describing how opposites attract in a relationship; 'What Else is New,' another ode to male-female bonding; 'The Forest'; a cover of Marillion's 'Easter'; and especially 'Four Seasons,' which sounds a lot more serious than it really is. Said Thomas of 'Four Seasons': 'We were deciding whether to leave Ohio, and to move to a warmer climate like the Carolinas or Florida. It was plaguing me because part of me really wanted to go, but then ultimately I realized I would miss it, and I didn't want to be in one climate all year round. So basically the song is about leaving the state and not particularly about a relationship.' Real-life experiences are the basis for many Tracey Thomas songs, but in other instances they result from fantasy and dreams. She's even written songs during concerts, in those defining moments in which another artist's inspiration 'somehow inspired me to create something and carry it out of that setting and work with it, learn from it.'