Alice Russell – To Dust (2013)
Alice Russell is a British soul singer who has worked with the likes of trip-hop producer Quantic, as well as nu-jazznik Nostalgia 77, and David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.
From the start, it is obvious that Russell is on top form. Her voice has to be one of the best in Britain. The album begins well enough, A to Z is an interesting and inventive take on songwriting, done really well and Heartbreaker Pt. 2 has a Stevie Wonder sound with funky organ, although with chilled beats. And here’s where my disappointment starts. While Russell is on the whole fantastic, the backing music, especially the rhythm section, just sounds completely lacklustre on some tracks.
I also feel like there is a certain amount of kowtowing to the pop-industry’s expected sound; Let’s Go (Breakdown) is pure chart-style pop and I feel it is really lacking in quality, especially at the end when it seems to fade out just as it is getting going. This is followed by Drinking Song (Interlude), another song with a really poppy chorus, although Russell sounds more in touch with her normal mode in the verse.
There are some great tracks, though. Citizens is a great trip-hop track, with a looped piano riff lumbering onwards; Twin Peaks shows Russell’s soulful sound so well, unrushed and sounding like classic Diana Ross; and Hard & Strong is a catchy upbeat number.
Overall, I was disappointed. Great singing, not so great production.
Favourite tracks: Twin Peaks, Citizens, Hard & Strong
Spotify link: Alice Russell – To Dust