Review Summary: A hypnotizing, delicate and haunting debut, an impressive feat for a 15 year old.Alexa Borden
caught me by surprise when I first came across "Will Love Ever Grow" on YouTube. Browsing mindlessly through videos, I stumbled upon this treasure. A cute little cover with Borden dancing in a pink and yellow haze the video only had 54 views. I was envisioning a young girl tinkering around on a piano and singing bubble-gum pop lyrics in the style of Taylor Swift. Instead, what I heard was an intelligent and brilliant songwriter. A beautiful story to make her shy yet poignant vocals. Suddenly I was very interested in this 15 year old and wanted to hear more. So I went on over to iTunes and purchased "Speck in the Universe". A lovely and beautifully timid album, it is delicate, lovely and soft. Although it is very calming, it is anything but boring.
“Skyscrapers" showcases her range of talents. There is constant piano beside the rest of the musical accompaniment, and her strong voice delivering with its lilting beauty. She doesn’t display any wild virtuosity in her piano playing, but the composition is perfect, other than some minor slips and falls here and there. But the subtle mistakes make for an organic album that doesn't seem so processed and fake like a studio album might feel. One knockout track is “Nightwish”, with its jazzy atmosphere and haunting cello. Her voice is exceptional and silky smooth as she sings in the verse and paints imagery around the panning arrangement. The other single on the record is the aforementioned “Will Love Ever Grow”. It’s a strong, poignant song, filled with elegant melodies and raw passion. The piano is quite simple, but provides gorgeous accompaniment to Borden; as do the soft pads that swirl in and out of the slow ballad.
But "Speck in the Universe" has much more to offer than these two singles. 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 later in the record showcases how strong it truly is. “Yours Dearly, Yours True” makes me tear up a bit every time, and “Poison On Your Lips” has a genuinely good story and solid melody. The album is hefty, featuring 14 tracks which stretch over an hour. I honestly can’t think of a song I don’t like. “Tallest Tales” is beautiful, with its pretty bells and extended ending, “Great Heights” (a cute track- one of my favourites), “Plastic Love”, “Almost Moon”, “Crowded Cafe”, and finally the magnificent and sad closer, “Breathe Into Me”. They are all terrific and well written. It is evident that Alexa is an author in her own right.
Trying to think of a flaw in the album I suppose you could mention that sometimes Alexa's vocals do not match the power of the song. It would be nice to hear her voice grow with the building and lilting melodies of "Tallest Tales" and other songs that get larger near their endings. That being said, it is a consistently enjoyable album, and I don't really have any other complaints.
The beautiful brunette songstress and self taught pianist has created a very strong debut. Considering she is an independent artist on her very own label, it is quiet a feat. It is really is an marvellous album for someone who is so young. Borden seems to be wise beyond her years. Well worth the $10. An instant classic" Probably not, but it’s still awesome. I am anxious to see where she goes on her next record.