Review Summary: Alice Smith's four octave range shines on a soulful approach to pop/rock.Oh man, what a sunny day/I can't wait to get out and play
If you listen to this album, you're going to realize one thing: Alice Smith is a singer
. Sure, she co-wrote 4 of the 12 songs on this album, but the fact remains that Alice Smith is first and foremost a singer. This album, her debut, is an album for fans of vocalists. Lyrically, it's simple, though sometimes slightly introspective and at times, childish. I digress, but alas my point is concrete, so I'll repeat it: Alice Smith is a singer.
Luckily for her, Alice Smith is one hell
of a singer. I'm always hearing about these new voices in pop/soul music -Beyoncé
, Christina Aguilera
, Alicia Keys
- and I'm sure you are too. Well, do yourself a favour and forget all of them. Beyonce? Yeah, forget about her. Christina? Yeah, she relies way
too much in reverb and layering. Alicia Keys is alright, I guess. My point is Alice Smith outdoes them all, at least vocally, seemingly with great ease.
So what makes Alice Smith so special, and better yet, what's so great about this album? If you've been paying attention so far, the answer to this is obvious, so I'm going to save myself from the frustration of repetition. Alice's voice is one that's versatility far surpasses its age; she's in her early twenties, yet her four octave vocal range allows her to hop between genres veraciously. Alice's voice is powerful, though she never really exploits its power. On an album filled with rock and pop, Alice somehow manages to come off as soulful as ever, and her voice allows her to fluctuate between subtle and bombastic. She has the outstanding ability to go through her roots, which are everything from jazz to gospel, rock to pop to soul, and everything in between. A very subtle touch is the occasional emergence of her farm-girl accent; though she is New York based, Alice spent time on her grandmother's farm in Georgia. The little things, like how she says "everythang" and a nice touch of reality to her.
Musically the album is about as varied as the vocalist that performs on it. The lyric found atop this review is from one of the strongest tracks on the album. Woodstock
, a slightly juvenile tale about taking a break and feeling happy, carries itself with a powerful bass line and a Lauryn Hill
Doo Wop-esque vibe, which then carries Alice's smooth narration along flowingly. The song is lyrically playful, and mid-way through the vocalized fishes play-up an oddly Sesame Street-like vibe. Nonetheless, the song is one of the more vocally straightforward ones on the album. Do I, for example, is a smooth soulful track that shows Alice going between smooth, Sade-styled vocals and more bombastic (see: POWERFUL) offerings with extreme ease.
Sure, the lyrics can be less than spectacular and the music is often fairly simple, but that's beyond the point. This is Alice Smith's debut and her mark has been made. She has proven to be worthy of all the praise she has received, and yet still somehow, she remains mostly unknown outside of New York. The album is as fun as it is soulful, and her voice is virtually flawless. Alice Smith is the embodiment of what it is to be a great singer. She has the pipes and though she does use them, she's never afraid to take a more subtle approach. Though the sound on the album fluctuates between rocky, guitar driven pop-rock tunes, blues and soul, her voice remains consistently outstanding.
If you still don't get it: Alice Smith is a singer. Remember the name.