(2013 Bella Union)
The Still Life is the third album by singer-songwriter Alessi Laurent-Marke who performs under the name Alessi's Ark. The twenty-two year old's latest album, and second for her label Bella Union, sees her offer a collection of short and sharp folk-pop tunes delivered with a straight-forward honesty that difficult to dislike. Produced by frequent Bright Eyes and Azure Ray collaborator Andy LeMaster, elements of these acts shine through in Alessi's music, though she never reaches for the introspection of either, she takes on their personal approach, and like those acts she invites you into her own particular world.
The strength of her song writing comes through on tracks like Afraid of Everyone that doesn't rely on a standard verse chorus structure. The track moves away from her folk sound, beginning with a sparse intro with a lonely bass before Alessi’s voice is joined by a driven drum beat as the track grows along with the paranoia presented in her lyrics into one of the standout moments on the album. Other highlights include Veins Are Blue, which features arrangements filtered through reverb and delay that bring to mind the sounds of Hope Sandoval, and The Rain, which sees her continue to veer into dream pop territory with its drifting backing vocals.
Another track, Money, shows her upbeat earnestness that centers many of the songs here. It ends with the playful refrain, “You are rich with my love” where her simplistic message is delivered with a direct sincerity. Though this approach falls short on Big Dipper, ending with the clunky line ‘my fists are clenched/I long to sit with you on a garden bench’ which calls for a more personal and intimate expression.
The album doesn't stay in one place for very long, with most of the songs coming in at less than three minutes, and she displays a creative variety of instruments that accompany her voice and acoustic guitar. Beyond a few missteps, Alessi shows herself to be a talented musician and her pop hooks and creative arrangements could easily see her already prolific output gaining a larger audience in the future.
Originally posted on Figure8magazine.co.uk