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Alice Russell At Amoeba, Thursday May 2nd 2013

Move over Adele, there is a new girl in the game and she is gonna eat you alive! I am kidding of course, because Alice Russell is not exactly new to the scene, she has recorded albums since 2004 and has just released her fifth studio album, but her performance at Amoeba on Thursday night was my first exposure to her powerhouse vocals. And of course, every time there is an English female performer singing her lungs out, the connection is unavoidable. But no, Alice is much much less poppy and much more soulful or gospel than Adele, although the songs she performed were an eclectic mix of blues, soul and even jazz.

Wearing a ‘Zap’, ‘Boom’, ‘Pow’ printed black dress and a leather vest, her hair tied in a blonde bun, she came on stage with a strong and confident presence and a voice that has probably gotten its inspiration from the greatest American divas, think Aretha Franklin or Chaka Khan,… yes, she was that impressive. Now, looking at her, I was wondering how many of these women does England still have in its pool? Amy Winehouse, Adele, Jessie Ware, Alice Russell and how many are there of this vocal caliber? But I was also scratching my head and was wondering why she hasn’t been more visible sooner. But it may be it is her time, and her new collaboration with David Byrne and the Roots on her last album ‘To Dust’, may have brought her in the Amoeba spotlight – she was also in Jimmy Kimmel Live the day before, has a show at the First Unitarian Church this week, plus other dates in the US!

The songs were subtly played by her back-up band, the music was quite stripped down to let her voice shine and be the definite star, a voice she was in total control of, as she was effortlessly pushing the high notes with a rare elasticity, a total vocal agility, while making expressive faces, moving her hands in the air or clenching fists,.. now I rarely listen to this kind of music, but there was a large diversity in all these songs, and Alice was singing them with the same passion and even better, with a certain badass attitude.

You could hear a real gospel spirit behind her vocalization, particularly true during ‘Citizens’ or ‘For a while’, while some of the songs  like ‘Let Go (Breakdown)’ were bringing a real dance groove, but her whole set was intense, rich in rhythms and modern soul. There also was something old school about her, and I am saying this because she would easily find her place among the real soul divas.

So I wonder, is she the new Adele (I bet she is tired of the comparison), or rather why haven’t we heard of her instead of Adele? I don’t know why, but if I could summarize her set at Amoeba in one word she sounded and looked… authentic.

 Setlist

Heartbreaker Part 2
Let Go (Breakdown)
Citizens
For a While
Let us be Loving
Hard and Strong
To Dust

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