Eclectic and funky Pop from Alice Smith
Rolling Stone named Alice Smith one of the 10 Artists to Watch in 2006 on the strength of her debut LP, “For Lovers, Dreamers, & Me.” Yes, that title is taken from the Muppets’ song ‘Rainbow Connection,’ but no, that song isn’t on this album. What IS on this album is an eclectic collection of R&B, Jazz, Soul, and Pop.
Few of the songs on this release are easy to pigeonhole. Take the third track, ‘Gary’s Song,’ for example. It’s built around a simple piano riff. The verses are deliberate and a little oozy, but then the chorus momentarily flashes a broad ballad sound. The flanged guitar sounds like old Funk. Occasionally, Smith’s voice reminds me of Joan Armatrading but other times, she works in more modern elements of style and sounds much more contemporary. The song selection ranges around a lot but even within individual songs, the band works in elements from different genres. It’s a good sound and Smith’s voice is impressive.
In addition to ‘Gary’s Song’, I want to recommend 3 songs from this release.
- Woodstock – Just a sunny little tune with an upbeat hook. It is positively infectious.
- New Religion – This is another uplifting song with Beatlesesque verses and a broad chorus. Smith is somewhat petite. I would love to see her live because I’d get a kick out of seeing this great big voice issuing from this little woman.
- Do I – Best track on the disc. Or my favorite, anyway. It’s dark and smoky enough to be Meshell Ndegeocello, but the harmony at the chorus has a liquid sheen that Ndegeocello’s breathy murmur never approaches. It’s a powerful song.
So she was nominated for a Grammy in 2007 for this release but has been silent since then. There is no mention of an upcoming release on her official site or on her MySpace page, but one would expect a follow-up release from Smith any time now. Interestingly, on YouTube, I found footage of her performing ‘107 Degrees’ onstage with Citizen Cope. Now THAT is a collaboration I would like to hear more of.