CD REVIEW: Alyssa Jacey - Here to Change
By Levi Canfield
Artist: Alyssa Jacey
Genre: Pop/Folk Rock/Soul
Sounds Like: Lady Antebellum at her poppiest, and Shawn Colvin at her most soulful
Technical Grade: 6/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 6/10
Songwriting Skills: 6/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
Best Songs: Here’s To Change, Fall Out Of Love
Strengths: Visually beautiful, Clear/crisp vocals, Commercial appeal
Weakness: Last half of the CD
From the sun dried state of California comes Alyssa Jacey. After failing her dreams of becoming a dancer, she started playing karaoke in the bar she waitressed for. From there she has sprouted a strong following regionally with her harmonious voice, and ear for catchy pop. Her music is a mix of country, soul, folk, and pop that is hard to pinpoint. On her most recent CD release, Here’s To Change, there is a definite line drawn between the pop and folk over the albums 10 tracks.
Alyssa Jacey is slowly building hype around her latest CD release, and for good reason. The first half of the CD plays like a very well crafted pop country EP. Song’s like the self-titled jazz jambler (“Here’s To Change”) definitely have a way of perking up the listeners ears. The music is reminiscent of a Lady Antebellum b-side. The album single “Fall Out of Love” sounds like something you could hear on any contemporary country radio station currently. Her crisp, light vocals distinctly paste over most of the albums sonic landscape. Despite her ability to pen a good chorus and hum a tune, her most noticeable difference from other independent artist’s is her commercial appeal. An attractive, young, female singer songwriter who can put out strong 3 minute pop folk hits is sure to be bought up by some studio executive trying to ride the Lady Antebellum/Taylor Swift train. Along with her strong DIY attitude, Alyssa can definitely continue her career into something worth bragging about. Booking her own shows, promoting herself without a label, etc can be hard work, and it’s definitely work not to daunting to stop Ms. Jacey.
Unfortunately, after the phone call on track five, the album seems to fall apart. Breaking up is hard on everyone, but apparently no one like Alyssa Jacey who jumps ship from her catchy chorus’s to overblown balladry. When it comes to making LPs, the whole mix should have an organic flow from one song to the next. Instead Here’s To Change feels like two EPs smushed together. One with her “silly pop songs” and the other with the “honest folk soul”. This is where Jacey runs into problems, because she cant play outfield and swing at the same time. Tracks such as, “All Over Again”, “Beautiful Night”, and “Feel Like This” have a hard time setting themselves apart from any other generic break up ballads. It’s a common phrase to say “You have got to pay your dues to play the blues” and even though Alyssa Jacey might have struggled in her earlier endeavors, it doesn’t mean we should be spilling tears in our beer bottles for her just yet.
In some cases for independent artists, flubs like a poorly conceived album cover (Sorry Jacey) can be overlooked, but too many sad ballads about breaking up just hurt the album. Rather than sounding very genuine, the songs extended length feels more like an attempt to curtail around her indelible vocals. Jacey has a serious case of Fancy Play Syndrome on the later half of the CD. Rather than keeping with the logic of “Keep It Tight, Keep It Right” , she falls into the pressure of filling out the full LP with a new direction. This new direction feels without a guide though, and given the right map, Alyssa Jacey could probably turn her career into either direction with neo-country pop or soulful folk singer songwriter. Either way, this album feels without an identity. Even though both halves aren’t bad in and of themselves, they together still don’t feel like a whole. Which is ironically, the biggest hole in Alyssa Jacey’s 2010 releaseHere’s To Change”
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