Lock, Stock & Soul (2/12)


rovi.MR0003554851 8/23/11 Used

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    Lock, Stock & Soul (2/12) Sunnyside Communications

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Review Text Vocalist Alyssa Graham earned accolades from the music press for the jazz-leaning sounds of her first two albums, What Love Is and Echo, but Graham has changed lanes with her third album and has set her sights clearly on pop music. Most artists who give themselves this sort of creative makeover have chart success in mind, but that doesn't seem to be what Graham is aiming for on Lock, Stock & Soul; this is hardly the sort of pop music that has been selling many records in the past two or three decades, recalling the Laurel Canyon singer/songwriter community of the late 1960s and early '70s in its easygoing vibes and mellow but precise craft. Fittingly, while Graham relied on cover material on her earlier albums, she wrote or co-wrote five of the 12 tunes on Lock, Stock & Soul, while David Garza contributed four songs to the set list. However, if this is truly the music Graham has wanted to make all along, it's tempting to say she was better off following someone else's muse. Lock, Stock & Soul is the musical equivalent of a cup of warm milk, warm and soothing but short on personality, and more likely to lull you off to dreamland rather than make you sit up and take notice. On these sessions, Graham's vocals are light, breathy, and subdued, with the phrasing lacking the jazzy angles of her earlier work and her instrument suggesting an artier and less emphatic Olivia Newton-John. Graham's songwriting also confirms she was wise to interpret other people's work on her first two discs; as a lyricist, she sounds like a high school poetry student who is likable but has little to say, and it's unfortunate but true that the one song she wrote with no outside help, "He's a Lover," is easily the weakest track on the album. And while Graham has some gifted accompanists on Lock, Stock & Soul (including Chris Bruce on guitar, Me'Shell Ndegéocello on bass, and Michael Jerome on drums), this music is so polite it feels more like wallpaper than any sort of emotional, expressive art. Maybe Lock, Stock & Soul really is the sound of Alyssa Graham's soul, but if that's the truth, you'd have to go back to the Wizard of Oz to find a better example of an invented persona that was more interesting that the person behind the curtain. ~ Mark Deming

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. 'Til My Heart Quakes - 5:41
  2. 2. I Know - 3:02
  3. 3. Exploded View - 4:05
  4. 4. High Time - 5:34
  5. 5. He's a Lover - 4:04
  6. 6. Round & Round - 3:38
  7. 7. Last Leaf - 3:23
  8. 8. Ain't My Kind of Boy - 5:39
  9. 9. I'll Stay with You - 4:59
  10. 10. You're the One - 3:39
  11. 11. Lock, Stock & Soul - 4:02
  12. 12. Tidal Wave - 5:47

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