Alice Russell :: To Dust
Unexpected musical discoveries are one of my most favorite things in this life. The feeling, not all that different from that initial attraction to a new lover, is exquisite, alluring, and delicious. I had such a musical moment today when perusing the new releases of the week I tripped and fell into Alice Russell’s new album, To Dust. The album is a refreshing back-flip dive into the world of soul, of a cross-breed of vintage and post-modern R&B, shaken and stirred with a swizzle stick of the blues. I am sure there will be comparisons to Adele, but that is not what I get while I listen. Instead, I hear a little Amy Winehouse, little Lauryn Hill, a little Aretha Franklin, a little Sharon Jones, a little Robyn and a little Martina Topley Bird. Also, I hear a lot of sex, or the desire for a lot of sex, in the way this album sounds. This album is pure and unadulterated desirous hot hot heat.
I am not a heavy R&B listener, at least not modern R&B (I am quite a sucker for the Motown sound), but this sound, this new British Soul sound that Alice captures so brilliantly on this album, is definitely the exception to the rule. I am finding myself in a non-stop body sway, my eyes half fluttering closed, letting the music wash over me languidly. Then, a next some steps up and comes along, and I am fighting the urge to dance in a reckless abandon style. Perhaps this album is not meant for public consumption, but is more likely meant for privacy, for adult listening companions, and locked bedroom doors (back to that feeling/hearing a lot of sex as noted above).
My initial favorite is the second track on the album, Heartbreaker Pt. 2, which curiously comes up to play before the track Heartbreaker gets ready to spin and sing. Is this meant to be a premonition of losing and breaking, more than once, yet persisting regardless of the pain? Is this a starting at the end kind of sung along story? Was the second heartbreak more unforgettable, and more urgent, than the first? I know Pt. 2 is the one I am digging the most right now. This song is impossible not to move your body along to, it will just happen, as the song slinks and slithers along with your beating pulse.
Heartbreaker (without the Pt.) is fused with a different sound all-together. It is more upbeat, more soul-infused, more hopeful, almost to suggest that the first cut, although perhaps the deepest, is met from a higher place. Though it is from those higher places that the fall down damages more, and scars.
The following track, For a While, is damn fine, too. It starts simple, like the tap of a foot or a beat-beat-beating pulse felt at the wrists, just beneath the skin. Again, it is impossible to not want to move and sway to this. The song reminds me of waiting for something good, that feeling of anticipation that is almost too much to stand, but worth it, the time it takes to deliver. This is the song that reminds me of Lauryn Hill, and her work with the Fugees, most of all. That said, there is something pulled forward and beyond that sound to it, too, something uniquely Alice Russell.
The last track, Citizens, a recent interest of mine (taking in the final songs) is vocally stunning. There is a cool down feel to it, a lie back and let the music take over kind of feeling that is almost hypnotic. I keep hitting replay, not wanting it to end, which is the makings of a great last track, in my opinion.
It would be too simple to say this is mood music, though it does bring on quite a mood. It is more than that, though. It is exceptional music with addictive back beats and gorgeous vocals. The album is addictive, one spin will not be enough, you will listen, like I did, and immediately want more. What an amazing surprise this album has been for me today.
Heartbreaker Pt. 2 (live)
For a While (live)