Review Summary: Delightful debut.
Coffee and good music is a terrific combination. Thus, when one very early morning in downtown Niagara “Almost Lover” happened to come on while lounging in Starbucks, a coffee in my hand, two friends by my side, I was quite enthused. I had actually downloaded One Cell in the Sea
a week or two before I heard the track, but had not really listened to it. Anyhow, noticing the song and discovering what it was I made time to listen to the album. As apparent by my rating, it was time well spent.
A Fine Frenzy is the sobriquet of pianist/singer-songwriter Alison Sudol. She has a lovely voice, and a knack for composing equally lovely pieces, containing gentle orchestrations and supple melodies. Her music is rich and powerful, but not aggressive by any means; it seems almost timid, beneath its innocent profundity. Her lyrics are genuinely well written, and combined with her music it creates atmospheres ranging from haunting, to delicate and comforting.
“You Picked Me” showcases her range of talents. There is constant piano beside the rest of the musical accompaniment, and her strong voice delivering with its clear beauty. She doesn’t display any wild virtuosity in her piano playing, but the composition and execution is perfect. One standout track is “Rangers”, with its thick chorus and pretty verse. Her voice is exceptional in the chorus, as she sings of how maybe we don’t want to be found
before the music falls to a small bridge with twirling violins and bouncy piano. Finally we cruise back into the enrapturing chorus, possibly my favorite phrases on the record. The other single on the record (“Rangers” was one also) is the aforementioned “Almost Lover”. It’s a strong, poignant song, filled with elegant melodies and raw passion in her voice. The piano is played modestly but provides gorgeous accompaniment to Sudol and the soft strings which enter in the middle of the song.
Since I’ve basically only mentioned the two singles it may seem like they are all One Cell in the Sea
has to offer, but nothing could be further from the truth. The album is very consistent; from the first two tracks which start the album off solidly, and just the fact that the singles don’t even come along until tracks five and six show that it’s a substantial record and that she has faith in the quality of the openers. “Think of You”, “Ashes in Wine” all have genuinely good melodies and enough substance to warrant several listens. The album is huge, featuring 14 tracks which stretch over an hour; no track is shorter then three and a half minutes. I honestly can’t think of a track I don’t enjoy. “Liar Liar” is beautiful, with its pretty verse and another solid chorus. It ends with a grand outro, with clever instrumentation. “Lifesize”, “Near to You”, “The Minnow & the Trout”, “Hope For the Hopeless”, and finally the magnificent closer “Borrowed Time” are all great.
Trying to think of a shortcoming of the album I suppose you could blame her consistency. Each track is so durable that it feels a little straightforward, constant. There are no real breaks in enjoyment of it. If that’s a problem for you then I don’t know what to say.
The beautiful redhead has created, if nothing else, a very strong debut. Her music has been featured in many television shows and debuted at #158 on the Billboard 200. Disregarding the success, it really is an outstanding album. Well worth money or whatever effort you put into getting this. Groundbreaking? A masterpiece? Probably not, but it’s pretty fantastic.