Friday, July 28, 2006

Ali Bartlett

by Frank Gualtier -- 07/28/06

Ali BartlettIt was Mark Collins of the Live365 Internet Radio station Women of the '90S who pointed me in the direction of Ali Bartlett. He's a man on a mission not so unlike my own. He set an awful high bar this time.

It seems lately every time I hear something I'd swear was steeped in the American heartland it turns out to be by way of Canadian blood. Ali Bartlett exemplifies this as her Canadian veins are flowing rich with song. As well she has one of those once in a lifetime heard exemplary voices. A voice that is intoxicating to the point of near wreckless abandon and so mesmerizing I think she might stop a few hearts.

It's a smoky voice -- near the neighborhood -- with a somewhere between and Tanya Tucker. It's one of the most uniformly textured voices I've ever heard and very full. When she sings the "ment" of "judgment" (nearly spoken) in the song radiant the lushness of it nearly cuts you in half.

The songs that were on her myspace player when I arrived were Alright By Me, Common Criminals, Lay Me Down, and Radiant -- the last of which features on backing vocals.

Much to my surprise I found out that she writes her own music and the songs I heard were her own. The surprise was justified and I think you'll agree because it's rare to find either a voice or music of this high a caliber. To find both dwelling in the same person? The odds must astronomically disfavor such phenomenon.

My favorite song is Lay Me Down. It oozes acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin (barebones minus fiddle) drenched spirit. It's got a soft.2.3.hard.2.3 rushed catch-up rhythm that I swear projects scenery right out of a small calm in a big storm of the and era American deep south. Like many songs that actually were from 1930's America it sings idealistically with the chorus "lay me down -- won't you stay here beside me -- your wandering heart -- found". If we're not on the same page try listening to the soundtrack of This song would have fit nicely with the overall flavor I believe.

She definitely covers more territory but the orbital path seems to be centered around and with flavors dictated by how far she strays into the alt-* / progressive-* space.

I'd bet a large sum that were she to put out an album comprised entirely of her songs it would be one of those "not a single weak track" affairs.

Finally -- she seems always to sound a bit somber regardless of the mood. I think it's just how she chews her words with that lush smoky voice. Ali herself calls it "optimistically sad". She nailed it.

Click here and to listen to her. Go encourage her. Go tell her you love her music and you want more.

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