In 2006 a new indie soul/pop singer-songwriter quickly seduced me with her sophisticated sound and amazing talent -- registering like a more refined Christina Aguilera, and a sultrier Beyoncé. But after months, then years, of repeated listens to her marvelous tour-de-force debut album, I grew eager to hear new material. Or even just, you know, news about her. But instead it was all quiet on the Alice Smith front.
Smith slyly references the seven-year wait and delayed gratification that is her new second release "She" from the moment you hit play.
’’Where are you going with your life? What kind of chances will you take?’’ Smith sings a cappella on ’’Cabaret Prelude.’’ ’’If you just give me the night, I promise not to let you go astray. And forever, we’ll be rising.’’
The thing is, Alice Smith may have an utterly common name that’s a bit hard to remember. And years of conflict with the music industry and her former label Sony/Epic, which is still holding up release of her long-ago completed sophomore album, has only hurt her plea for attention. Still, once you give her a night, she makes good on her promise -- and then some. Because as great as 2006’s "For Lovers, Dreamers and Me" was, She is an astonishing collection of 10 songs, all but one Smith wrote or co-wrote, charting the ups and downs and ins and outs of love, even just friendship, with musical twists and lyrical turns as sharp and surprising as they come.
Smith sings about letting loose and living in the moment -- which she imaginatively compares to chasing and stressing over unattainable Hollywood dreams -- on jaunty first single ’’Cabaret.’’ Later comes ’’Loyalty,’’ a thoroughly sweet-sounding little ditty -- until you pay attention to the lyrics. ’’Don’t take for granted, my loyalty,’’ she sings in the chorus. And then in the bridge she leads a chorus chanting ’’friends, no, more,’’ before she coos 10 times, ’’We’re not friends no more’’ to end the song. It’s impossibly pretty, which makes the kiss-off sting that much more.