wears the trousers magazine


alessi’s ark: notes from the treehouse (2009)
March 23, 2009, 10:30 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,

a_lp_alessisark_09

Alessi’s Ark
Notes From The Treehouse ••••½
Virgin

Well…gosh! Wears The Trousers has been following the career of Alessi’s Ark for a fair time, enjoying a wonderfully informative and fun interview with the West London singer-songwriter along the way, but even we have to admit that we never expected Notes From The Treehouse to be quite so good. The Horse EP was a solid release, if at times spaced out to the point of verging on lackadaisical. Alessi’s bold decision to leave all of that material, bar ‘The Horse’, off her debut album pays off in so many ways. Once again she has side-stepped expectation and come up with the goods.

In some ways, Alessi’s defiance of the modern trend for artists to craft their first album from a previously released EP with a few additional tracks shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. While she might give the impression of being dreamy and having her head in the clouds, Alessi is, in fact, in possession of a work ethic that would put most cold-blooded careerists to shame. We are, after all, talking about the woman who single-handedly hunted down the in-demand Mike Mogis and convinced him to produce both The Horse EP and Notes From The Treehouse in his studio in Omaha, Nebraska.

So, what does it sound like? Well, opener ‘Magic Weather’ come across as the fawn-like offspring of Fiona Apple and Joanna Newsom, bearing the former’s orchestral flourishes and the latter’s whimsical style of storytelling. ‘The Horse’ still sounds too much like what a radio executive thinks Alessi should sound like, but is pleasant enough, but new single ‘Over The Hill’ is a lovely indication of just how far Alessi has come. It’s full of Mogis’s trademark country twang, but brings Alessi’s youth to the table with bright, poppy xylophone which she proceeds to play off against, with the heavy sarcasm of the line: “It’s just a shame that from the very beginning you’ve always been her man.”

This is great stuff. A minor criticism of The Horse EP was that it didn’t showcase the playful wit and sense of irony that came across in person. On Notes From The Treehouse it is present and oh so wonderfully correct, as the playful sing-song of ‘Constellations’ goes to show. Alessi’s voice, too, has found a definite character, whereas previously it felt as though she were trying on different styles. As it stands, it’s now one of the most individual in the industry: warm, beautifully accented, with a marmalade bite that imbues ‘Woman’ and ‘Memory Box’ with maturity beyond Alessi’s short years. The album closes on a nice contrast, with the domestic sway of ‘The Dog’ rolling into the sad, epic rock of ‘Glendora’: “There are things I have left to tell you, yes, yes.” There’s a bit of a retro nod with a hidden track at the very end but it’s a bit hit and miss and perhaps best left undiscovered.

It’s probably time to stop raving. It must be said, though, that there are few things more exciting than when an artist takes your wildest hopes and then goes one step beyond, as Alessi has done with Notes From The Treehouse. It’s quite incredible, really. At just 18, she’s got the best in the business on her side, the spirit and the soul of Omaha under her skin, and delivered a debut that has managed to sidestep all the critical expectations. She deserves to be huge.

Scott Sinclair
UK release date: 04/05/09; www.myspace.com/alessisark

‘Over The Hill’

‘The Horse’

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2 Comments so far
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lovely review

Comment by anikainlondon

[…] What we said then: “There are few things more exciting than when an artist takes your wildest hopes and then goes one step beyond, as Alessi has done with Notes From The Treehouse. It’s quite incredible, really. At just 18, she’s got the best in the business on her side, the spirit and the soul of Omaha under her skin, and delivered a debut that has managed to sidestep all the critical expectations. She deserves to be huge.” ••••½ Scott Sinclair […]

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