Saturday, February 10, 2007

Top Albums 2006- #1

For Lovers, Dreamers, and Me
Alice Smith

When it comes to this type of music, I’m reluctant to use the “N” word. It’s easily the most misused word in the R&B lexicon. “Neo-Soul” I find it funny that most albums tagged neo-soul tend to be anything but. Most of them sound old. In comes Alice Smith who, like me, would love to do away with the term as well. The only problem is that she actually created an album that can only be defined truly as neo-soul. Allow me to explain. The one genre that has yet to receive its much needed make-over is R&B. Most R&B singers these days either sing over rap beats, or recycle R&B tracks from the days of old. No one has been able to escape these traps and expand the genre beyond its current boundaries.

Now, it would be unfair of me to say that Alice Smith has done this. But it’s safe to say she has the talent to make it happen. Most R&B artists that claim to be diverse tend to create individual songs with a genre in mind for each. For Lovers, Dreamers, and Me manages to be musically varied without overreaching. Somehow, Smith managed to blend her diverse taste in music with astonishing consistency and clarity. “Dream” starts off with a simple piano line and ends with Smith showing off her upper register over spanish style fanfare. Next comes the soulful bounce of “Woodstock” with its own fish choir (seriously) singing over a horn section. It’s obviously not you typical R&B affair and reads sillier than it sounds, but don’t let it deter you. Anyone who is not a believer needs a couple of sessions with “New Religion.” The song starts off with a sideways style vocal over what seems like a typical country-ish ditty. Good enough in its own right, but it’s when Alice brings it home that really makes it incredible. The last minute of the song contains a vocal only a truly gifted singer can deliver. And this is no exaggeration; it gives me chills every time. It’s moments like this where you get a glimpse of what an artist is capable of and it fills you with hope and excitement for the future.

It actually seems unfair to even label Alice R&B. Call me crazy, but I think there’s something bigger here. It’s typical for people to get so attached to an album that they begin to create something greater in their minds than the original music. But if this is just the beginning, I can’t help but imagine where we’re going to go from here.


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