The Language of Life is the fifth studio album by British musical duo Everything but the Girl. It was released on 5 February 1990 by Atlantic Records and Blanco y Negro Records.

The Language of Life became Everything but the Girl’s second album to surpass sales of 500,000 copies, but the album divided the group’s British fanbase.

In 2012, group member Tracey Thorn described The Language of Life as “a slightly slick, kind of semi-jazzy, sophisticated record” and recalled that it “was a definite attempt to try and do something that had a character to it, but in retrospect when we were asked why we had taken that direction, we couldn’t entirely say why”.

Producer Tommy LiPuma had previously worked with artists like Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Randy Newman, and George Benson, and had contributed production to Aztec Camera’s 1987 album Love.

He had expressed an interest in producing Everything but the Girl, and Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, feeling that they had lost their place within the UK music scene, contacted him and asked him if he wanted to hear some demos. He invited them to New York City, and then to Los Angeles, where they would eventually record The Language of Life.

Tracey Thorn performed lead vocals on the album, and Ben Watt played guitar and piano, as well as doing some singing. Song arrangements were written by Larry Williams and Jerry Hey.

The band LiPuma put together included Omar Hakim on drums, John Patitucci on bass and Larry Williams on keyboards. LiPuma produced, in Thorn’s words, “a fully realised, immaculately performed and produced modern American soul-pop record”.

Trackslist: Driving, Get Back Together, Meet Me In The Morning, Me And Bobby D, Language Of Life, Take Me, Imagine America, Letting Love Go, My Baby Don’t Love Me & The Road.


  • Tracey Thorn – vocals
  • Ben Watt – guitar, piano, vocals

Additional musicians

  • John Patitucci – bass
  • Jerry Hey – flugelhorn, horn arrangements
  • Larry Williams – piano, synthesisers
  • Kirk Whalum – tenor saxophone
  • Russell Ferrante – piano
  • Lenny Castro – percussion
  • Michael Landau – guitar
  • Omar Hakim – drums
  • Vinnie Colaiuta – drums
  • Stan Getz – tenor saxophone
  • Joe Sample – piano
  • Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone
  • Marc Russo – alto saxophone