It’s not often that I get emotional during morning rush hour. Normally, I’m too sleepy/tired to even think straight, let alone notice things like, say, words or feelings. However, the final track on Alfa’s first full length album, Second Skin, not only made me stop playing solitaire, but had me completely absorbed in the song’s message of familial love and growth.
Mind you, the rest of the album is just as good.
As I noted in my preview of Alfa’s newest material, we find the songtress in top form for her new album. The continued progress of her career and skills is fitting, given the title of her previous release, Growth. It seems that Alfa has indeed been growing.
The late, great comedian Mitch Hedberg once said, “People ask me what words mean… Some people would say, ‘put it in a sentence.’ But I need a little more. ‘Put it in a play.’” Well, Alfa does exactly that (“Love As Tragedy: A Play In Three Acts”) and a whole lot more. She explores familiar themes of love found and lost from different perspectives, a variety of settings (France, anyone?) and pleasantly varied musical styles.
The album starts off with a jaunty girl-power theme song called “Supergirl,” continues with the aforementioned three-act “play,” and flows right into “Second Skin,” an achingly intimate love song. The songs that follow range from the wistful (“Isabelle”) to the pessimistic (“Nothing Ever Lasts”). Alfa beginning to explore her range as a songwriter and singer a bit more. She still has a knack for super catchy hooks and melodies, though this reviewer would love to hear Alfa tackle even more themes outside of love and relationships.
Also important to note: the album just sounds great. Not only does Alfa incorporate strings, horns, and other ancillary instrumentation into her arrangements, but it’s clear that all the sounds have been lovingly and carefully crafted into tight, well-rounded mixes. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Alfa, a multi-instrumentalist, works with a very talented band, which include drummer Dave Dodds and bassist Jon McElroy.
Verdict: Second Skin is a big step forward for singer-songwriter Alfa. Vocally, compositionally, and performance wise, she is definitely hitting her stride. I highly recommend picking up or downloading a copy of her latest album and trying to keep pace.
– Reviewed by Eugene