Sydney Alese – Time


Mesa, Arizona native Sydney Alese’s latest release Time is a ten song collection of surprising musical diversity. It isn’t often that you’ll find modern performers grounded in pop music who never allows that to stop them from branching out in various musical directions. The multitude of voices Alese conjures over the expanse of this album is never unconvincing and the fact she never overplays these stylistic shifts shows she has an unerring instinct for songwriting dynamics that dwarfs those of many contemporaries.

It isn’t readily apparent. The title track is solid effort that juggles diverse elements within an established framework and it delivers in a dramatic fashion. Alese quickly proves herself to be a top shelf singer here and further solidifies that on the follow-up cut “Light Up My World”. The track shows her vocal dexterity and results in a vulnerable, yet life-affirming performance that lights up the song with its gentleness and generosity. “Pass You By” will astonish many with its slashing guitar work and confident rock vocal. Alese’s lyrics are far from pretentious pseudo-poetic drivel and distinguish this song with strongly literate writing. One of the album’s truly life affirming, “Inspire”, finds a songwriter comfortable with looking outside of herself while being forever grateful for and open to new experiences. “Love in the Night” pulses with shimmering keyboard surfaces and a bright, lively vocal from Alese.

The focused and eloquent “Responses Like These” has a nakedly honest allure that beginnings with its plaintive and intimate vocal. The underlying acoustic guitar strengthens the track’s musical foundation and the electronica textures. The disarming ukulele introduction to “The Beautiful Truth” continues to charm listeners throughout the track’s duration, but the true highlight is another playful and relaxed vocal from Alese. Electronica and dance appear again on “Prisoner” and it’s a perfect framework for this dark tale of romantic obsession. “I Found My Bliss” stands out as one of Time’s best pure pop efforts and it’s largely due to the tight construction and perfect orchestration of its competing musical elements. Time ends with the dance track, “Rave”, that romps with boundless energy while entertaining with dazzling breakdowns and a seemingly bottomless reservoir of musical ideas.

Time is a marvelous example of imaginative songwriting and arrangements finding a perfect synthesis with a modern sound. Alese’s songwriting fundamentals are unquestionably sound and the truly impressive thing is that she’s really, in essence, just begun. Her singing is memorably emotive while retaining fantastic pop appeal.

Shannon Cowden

8 out of 10 stars.