Album Review: Alessi’s Ark – Soul Proprietor EP

By on Monday, 29th March 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

Last spring I was charmed by a folk, free-spirited little tune called ‘The Horse’ from an outfit I knew nothing about apart from its equally free-spirited name, Alessi’s Ark. Hammersmith, London-reared singer Alessi-Laurent Marke, the woman behind the Ark, released her debut album ‘Notes from the Treehouse’ last year.

Now she is set to release a new EP called ‘Soul Proprietor’ next week (05 April) on Simon Raymonde’s Bella Union label, her first release with them since leaving Virgin Records. The tracks on this new EP showcase Laurent-Marke’s distinctive voice: sultry, smooth as honey, yet full of innocence. She isn’t even 20 yet, and that’s perfectly fine, because the wide-eyed wonderment that exudes from every song Laurent-Marke sings feels wholly appropriate.

Just like the songs off ‘Notes…’, each of the four tracks on the EP have short, non-descript titles that belie their loveliness. The best of the bunch is ‘The Robot’, sounding somewhat similar to ‘The Horse’, but in a familiar, good way. Judging by its name, ‘The Bird Song’ appropriately indulges in whistling and bird-sounding humming. The simple guitar arrangements of the brief ‘Shovelling’ seem to nod to the Eagles and work really well with Laurent-Marke’s melodic voice.

The least successful is ‘Dancing Feet’; perhaps it was the mix, but I thought the drums were too loud and overpowered her voice at times, which is a shame because closer to the end of the track, the slide guitar effects sounded great and lent better atmosphere to the song than the drums.

The only ‘worry’ I have with this genre – female-sung, fragile, guitar folky pop – is that for most people, you either love it or hate it. Anyone like me who enjoyed Alessi’s Ark’s previous releases is sure to welcome these new songs and consider them gems. Even if you didn’t like her previous work, I encourage you to give it a listen. Why? Because with fellow folkies Mumford and Sons and Laura Marling making major moves on the album charts with their own releases earlier this year, folk pop in general appears to be the quickest growing music genre (in terms of popularity) in the UK. And you just might want to jump on this bandwagon before it leaves the station. You can catch Alessi’s Ark live on selected dates of Laura Marling’s UK tour.

8.5/10

‘Soul Proprietor’ by Alessi’s Ark will be released in the UK on 05 April on the Bella Union label.

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