CD REVIEW: Alejandra O'Leary - Broken Mirror Baby
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Alterative Rock, Indie Rock
Weakness: Winded Songs, Post Production (Mixing and Mastering), Marketability
Michigan based Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Alejandra O’Leary releases her latest CD entitled Broken Mirror Baby in 2011. Reading from a recent interview Alejandra states; “I’ll have people ask me if I’m more like Nora Jones or Sheryl Crow,” O’Leary said. “I don’t want people to think music has to be so gendered. I think I’m more like Morrissey. I think he does a lot of things with his voice that I’ve tried to internalize and bring to my music. He does a lot of vocal solos.”
The CD gently takes to flight ”@ The Club” an upbeat intro piece that serves up steady rock rhythm, well placed keyboard ambience against hooky vocal melody from O’Leary that peaks and valleys its way through to emotional fruition. Track 2 “K.Y.O” shifts gears a bit with methodical musical intro against hooky Americana guitar groove, dynamic musical against a grand slam chorus. This piece is quite impressive with its demonstrating impressive vocal harmonies and percussive accents. Track 3 keeps things moving in the right direction with “When Will They Learn” a thought provoking ditty that delivers full tilt rock guitar against well placed vocal harmonies and heartfelt vocals from O’Leary. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of such classic acts such as Bangles, Mazzy Star, Morrissey, The Cars, Jewel, Sinead O Conner and perhaps a dash of Cowboy Junkies. The music itself is an impressive blend of Alternative Rock with an unmistaken Indie-Rock elements The musicianship of everyone involved is above the bar. Along the way besides the 4 piece standard you will notice lush instrumentation with things like well placed Keyboard accents, Piano, Impressive soundscapes, Percussive sounds, and lush harmonies layered everywhere. Turning our attention squarely on O’Leary - as for her vocal abilities she has an infectious soprano showcasing a notable falsetto and delicate vibrato. Her voice also works well within the confines of this conservative catalogue reminiscent of Susanna Hoffs (Bangles), Natalie Merchant (10,000 Maniacs) and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star). I might add O'Leary takes several vocal risks throughout the CD indicating to me a strong and confident vocal ability. From heartfelt “On Your Dime” to my personal favorite “Connect With Me” to melodic “Horses” to the rocking title track this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 8 “The Habit” the perfect finale piece waving you end for a smooth landing.
Looking at the liner notes it’s generally never a good idea to have the Mixing and Mastering Engineers be the same individual. As a result the mix lacks continuity track for track and is generally all over the place. Some of the songs are a bit winded and repetitive. All songs over 4 minutes tend you drag you to the finish line. It’s fair to say the CD is a bit short with only 8 songs showcased on the catalogue. I with there were maybe 3-4 more songs included in the line-up. I fully realize this is a subjective art form but many of the aforementioned issues do affect the CD's overall marketability.
From start to finish Broken Mirror Baby from Alejandra O’Leary is an impressive catalogue of music. The music is very passionate, melodic, and comes from a happy yet defiant perspective. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalogue. The strong suit of O’Leary is her infectious voice and overall persona - which you can't help but fall in love with.