Jazz artist Ala.Ni’s debut album You & I is one of this year’s best new offerings in the Jazz & Blues community and overall. Originally released overseas last June, it was released domestically June 9 via Missing Piece Records. The 12-song record wastes no time taking audiences back to the golden age of jazz thanks to the pairing of its musical arrangements and lyrical themes. That is proven in part right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Cherry Blossom.’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘Old Fashioned Kiss’ supports that statement just as much as ‘Cherry Blossom.’ It will be discussed later. ‘I’ll Remember’ is yet another of the album’s offerings that takes listeners back to that shining age. When those compositions are joined with the songs not noted here, the whole of the record proves to be, again one of the year’s top new Jazz & Blues albums and one of the year’s top new albums overall.
Ala.Ni’s debut album You & I is one of this year’s top new Jazz & Blues records, and one of the year’s best new albums overall. That is proven right from the album’s outset in the gentle, flowing opener ‘Cherry Blossom.’ This gentle, flowing song, which is highlighted by Ala.Ni’s beautifully angelic vocal delivery and an expertly placed guitar, is a wonderful way to start the album. The combination of those elements together creates a dreamy musical environment that is truly powerful in its own right because of its gentility. Considering this, it is only one part of what makes this song stand out in the album’s overall presentation. Its lyrical theme is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.
The lyrical theme presented in ‘Cherry Blossom’ is that of romance. The song’s subject sings here to her love interest to stay with her. She sings to her love interest in the song’s lead verse, “If you see me somewhere down the river/Come and stand beside me/It’s alright.” She goes on to sing, “Come to me/Stay with me/Say you’ll be a friend to me/Love/An everlasting love/Is forever and a day/Catch some cherry blossoms by the river/Flowing through the flowing of my heart/I will meet you somewhere down that river/Come and stand beside me/It’s alright.” There is no pleading here. One could almost argue that it is a gentle, almost coy flirting the way in which these lines are delivered. The song’s production adds to that feeling, making Ala.Ni’s vocal delivery sound like it came right out of the 1930s or 40s. Considering this, the clearly romantic theme and the arrangement, this song is a solid starting point for You & I, and a clear example of what makes the album stand out among its counterparts this year. ‘Old Fashioned Kiss’ serves to make the album stand out just as much as its opener.
‘Cherry Blossom,’ with its gentle flowing arrangement, which includes Ala.Ni’s vocal delivery, and its classic romantic theme, is a solid start for You & I and a clear example of what makes this record stand out among its counterparts. It is not the record’s only notable songs. ‘Old Fashioned Kiss’ is just as notable as ‘Cherry Blossom.’ As with ‘Cherry Blossom,’ that is due in part to its musical arrangement. Yet again, the song’s arrangement is centered on Ala.Ni’s gentle vocal delivery and the soft, simple guitar line that accompanies her singing. Speaking of her delivery, listeners familiar with their music history will instantly make a comparison between her singing style to that of a young Aretha Franklin. The simplicity in that delivery and of the song’s guitar line couples with the finger snapping to make the song’s overall arrangement infectious in its own right, proving true the old adage that sometimes big things really do come in small packages. It is, of course, just one of the song’s key elements. Its lyrical theme is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.
The lyrical theme presented in this song is, like that of ‘Cherry Blossom,’ centered on romance. What is interesting about the theme here is the way in which Ala.Ni delivers the lines. She is gentle yet somewhat playful in her delivery, going so far as to start off with some scat a la Mrs. Fitzgerald. She sings here, “Just an old-fashioned kiss…How can I resist/Oh how you tease me/Simple kiss upon the cheek/Makes my knees a little weak/Your lips are like spring/Morning dew on a red rose.” The playful vibe doesn’t stop here. The song’s subject goes on singing just as happily about being kissed by her love interest with plenty of positive vibes along the way. That upbeat vibe and equally upbeat lyrics couple with the song’s happy-go-lucky arrangement to create yet another distinct emotion and moment in this rich musical experience. Considering this, the song proves in the end to be yet another example of what makes You & I a standout offering from Ala.Ni. It is not the last of the songs that shows what makes the album stand out. ‘I’ll Remember’ serves to make the album stand out just as much as the previously discussed works.
‘Cherry Blossom’ and ‘Old Fashioned Kiss’ are both key examples of what makes You & I stand out in this year’s field of new Jazz & Blues records as well as overall records. They are just two of the songs that show what makes this record stand out, too. ‘I’ll Remember’ serves to show how much this album stands out in a way completely unlike the other noted works. That is due in no small part to the record’s deeply moving musical arrangement. Unlike the arrangements presented in ‘Cherry Blossom’ and ‘Old Fashioned Kiss,’ this song’s musical arrangement is a very subdued composition. It evokes a bittersweet emotion that is sure to move any listener with its genuine approach. That is again thanks to the pairing of Ala.Ni’s vocal delivery and the song’s companion guitar line. The very real mix of sadness and hopefulness creates an emotional impact that cannot be ignored or denied. Keeping that in mind, it is only one part of what makes the song stand out. It couples with the song’s lyrical content to add even more emotional depth to the work.
The musical arrangement presented in ‘I’ll Remember’ tugs hard at listeners’ heart strings. That is because of the genuine emotion exhibited in the song, including Ala.Ni’s own vocal delivery. The lyrics that the song’s subject sings add even more to that emotional impact. That is because the subject’s words come across as genuine as the emotion in the song’s arrangement. She sings here, “And if we never ever meet again/I’ll remember kissing you/Will you remember kisses, too/If we never ever meet again/Then the memory of love will see us through/When you left/My heart was drowning tears/So much I cried/But then a little voice spoke to my heart and told me I will be just fine/For if we never ever meet again/I’ll remember kissing you/Will you remember kisses, too/And if we never ever meet again/Then I’ll remember/Will you remember/Oh, I’ll remember loving you.” It’s a short statement, with the song clocking in at only two minutes, 23 seconds. Even in that short time, the subject’s bittersweet adieu is such a powerful statement that could bring tears to anyone’s eyes. That is especially the case when this heartfelt statement is set alongside the song’s equally moving musical arrangement. When both elements are paired, the emotion exhibited in the song (and its story) sets it completely apart from the record’s other offerings, showing once more the diversity presented throughout the record in terms of its musical arrangements and moods. When this is considered in the bigger picture of the album, the end result is a work that audiences will agree is one of the year’s top new domestic albums and one of the year’s top new domestic Jazz & Blues albums.
Missing Piece Records’ new domestic release of Ala.Ni’s 2016 album You & I is one of this year’s top new domestic albums and one of the year’s top new domestic Jazz & Blues albums. That is due to the wide array of musical arrangements and moods exhibited throughout the course of the record. From the coy, flirtatiousness of the album’s opener to the more playful, happiness of ‘Old Fashioned Kiss’ to the bittersweet, heart string-tugging emotion exhibited in ‘I’ll Remember’ to emotions and arrangements in-between, this record offers plenty for any purist jazz fan. That is especially the case for fans of music from the golden age of Jazz. The production of this record’s original tunes makes them sound like they were lifted right from the brightly lit ballrooms of the 1930s and 40s. Considering this and the previously noted items, it should be fully evident why this record is such a surprise release. All things considered, this record is a work that this critic believes is one of the year’s top new domestic albums and top new domestic Jazz & Blues albums. It is available now in store and online. More information on You & I is available online now along with all of Ala.Ni’s latest news and more at:
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