Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Alice Russell: XOYO Shoreditch, London 5/12/12

Alice Russell: XOYO, Shoreditch, London 5/12/12
Alice Russell: XOYO, Shoreditch, London 5/12/12 Alice Russell: XOYO, Shoreditch, London 5/12/12 Alice Russell: XOYO, Shoreditch, London 5/12/12 Alice Russell: XOYO, Shoreditch, London 5/12/12

What's the cure for seasonal affective disorder? (and no I don't mean Xmas!) I mean the 'winter blues!' It can only be cured by certain individuals and one of them without a shadow of a doubt is the uber talented Ms Alice Russell! Her sass warmth and good natured bonhomie was just the ticket for a rammed, stuffed, packed out XOYO in London's trendy Shoreditch.

Bathed and dressed in red, Alice literally shone luminously - angelic like, over one and all (as if Kraftwerk had asked her to join them on "Man Machine") The lady in question was here to promote her forthcoming album, out late February entitled; "To Dust." And a whopping great eight tunes were previewed on an unsuspecting crowd, who were possibly expecting more material from her previous four albums.

It can always be frustrating when an artist foisters her new material on you, like plunging into the unknown - but have no fear, if tonight's show is anything to go by, her new album is going to be her best yet!

Kicking off with newbie "Heartbreaker Part 2," affairs of the heart are once more are on the menu - with this modern twist on the blues, almost Bill Withers like, a downtempo cut to get us warmed up to what this lusty singer has in store for us. One thing I should mention about Alice is when live and in the flesh she's a tour de force, belting out the heartache and displaying emotions so goddam real you could reach out and touch them.

New Number, "Heartbreaker (Part1?)" has a very stuttery vocal style and a very subtle 6/8 feel. It's kind of 'one note melody' draws you into her world, where she's going to win you over, even before she gets to the chorus! A stop start middle bit keeps the intensity up, its all very cleverly arranged - wonky R&B stylee!

Another fresh one, "Twin Peaks" kept up the ante - another downtempo piece of skilful songwriting with a killer chorus. It was interesting to note that there were no girly backing vocalists on this gig. Frankly, Alice's voice is so strong she doesn't need them, and with choruses this good they're not missed in a live setting... and besides, Mike Simmons (who I'll talk about later) took care of bv's.

So then what about her band? Indeed! At her trusty side guitarist, producer, collaborator TM Juke - looking lean and muscular, backing her all the way. The mad gesticulating Ben Jones added novelty value on stage with his theatrical soloing, suave sophisticated and incredibly handsome Dan Swain took care of bass duties. Jack Baker's metronomic skills came in incredibly handy on drums. However the second star of the show and worth his weight in gold was the aforementioned Mike Simmons on violin, vocals, mandolin and other things. He was the perfect foible to the lushness of Alice, adding his stage charisma and total likeability to the mix. The icing on this very special cake!

It's got to be said, the sound in this basement room was excellent and when this band choose to rock out they go full tilt! The new material is a stylish mix of soul, rock, electronica and some bleepy 80's keyboard sounds. It all melded perfectly, a cosmopolitan blend of both TM's and Alice's influences making for a unique recipe for all to savour.

It seems there's no stopping Alice on tonight's merits, she easily maintained her unquestionable reputation as one of the best out there today and her previous album with Quantic was simply a masterpiece. "To Dust" could prove to match it. All eyes will be on next year to see her reap the seeds that she has sown so majestically tonight - basically in modern parlance, she absolutely smashed it! Merry Xmas Alice and all who love her as we do!
Words Emrys Baird

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