Continuously redefining what it is to be unique, Alessi Laurent-Mark, better known with her entourage as Alessi’s Ark, is a relieving antithesis to those stylized guitar girls who have little to offer when it comes to substance. If the substantial amount of music to date from her is anything to go by, her third album The Still Life, with its far reaching instrumental approach and sugar coated sweetness, will continue the West London singer’s ability to better the musical tastebuds of all who share in this strange yet serene pleasure.
Igniting this rather large collection of short tracks is “Tin Smithing”. Before the first pause for breath, a newcomer will immediately catch onto the incomparable way Alessi wraps lyrics around each other, with even the words themselves speaking of reciprocation. The overtly happy xylophone speaks to her other established strength; a curious combination of cute and retro that, whilst devoid of the modern electronic encroachment, is capable of taking on any internet spread cat.
Contrary to her own talents, she riskily reaches for the hanging growth spurts that a new album offers, with a thorough expansion in atmosphere and mood nicely set with help by producer Andy LeMaster. Able to embed raw, sombre emotions inside many distorted notes and chords, particularly those of the sample heavy “The Rain”, his mark on the tracks is rivalled, or enhanced rather by Brit producer Nic Nell. Being back home inside his London studio allowed Alessi to separately explore The National’s “Afraid Of Everyone” with her own domestic qualities, but also do the complete opposite with the interwoven French and Spanish in “Sans Balance”.
What’s that you say now, naysayer? If tracks so short they may as well be interludes strike you as too much of a novelty, then prepare to eat those words because these vignettes are the best thing on the plate. Taken from the rawest parts of her songbook, the words repeated in “The Good Song” strike the heart of her no longer private thoughts, whilst the miniature story of worn love and everlasting longing that is “Hands in the Sink” provides that same feeling of forbidden friendship offered by any hundred plus page novel.
With talent that’s always surpassed her young age, Laurent-Mark has through two previous outings won our admiration. Whilst The Still Life throws in musicians equally as endearing, including returning guest vocalist Jake Bellows on “The Rain”, the mind central to this body of work has become no less an entity to genuinely enrich.
Release: 15th April 2013, Bella Union