More than two-and-a-half years ago, up-and-coming singer-songwriter Ala.ni became a darling in the music world thanks to her debut album You & I. That is because the album was, at the time, unlike anything else within the jazz and overall music worlds. She clearly is not one to rest easy on her laurels as her sophomore album ACCA proves. Released Jan. 24, the 11-song LP is, like its predecessor, completely unlike anything out there today. This record is not only distinctly different from anything else out there today, but also from her own debut record, both musically and lyrically. ‘Hide’ is just one of the songs featured in the record that serves to support the noted statements. It will be addressed shortly. ‘ShaLala’ is another prime example of how much this new offering from Ala.ni stands out, and will be discussed a little later. ‘Away GO’ is yet another example of what makes the album stand out so starkly in the best way possible. It certainly is not the last of the album’s notable works. The clear sociopolitical message and infectious arrangement in ‘Le Diplomate,’ the r&B-infused ‘VanP’ and its relationship-centered lyrical theme, and the absolutely stunning and simple choral approach of ‘In The Land’ add their own impact to the album, as do the record’s other works. The whole of the LP’s works is a presentation that is without argument, one of this year’s most unique and enjoyable records.
Ala.ni’s sophomore album ACCA is a step in the right direction for the up-and-coming singer-songwriter. It shows that this young woman is a truly talented artist. That is proven through the record’s musical and lyrical content from start to end. ‘Hide’ is an early example of what makes this new offering from Ala.ni stand out in this year’s field of new albums. Much as with most of the album’s other songs, this song’s musical arrangement is almost entirely acoustic, if not entirely acoustic. If there are any electronic elements here, they are so subtle that it is next to impossible to place them. The subtlety in the use of the standing bass and the a capella vocal approach is so simple, yet so engaging even in that simplicity. The arrangement gains even more importance when one considers the song’s lyrical content.
Ala.ni sings in the song’s lead verse, “You can’t forget all of love’s borders/You can’t forget all that you see/in spite of everything/You’re suffering the best of me/And I’ll forgive you for the moment/Because you brightened the day/Tomorrow we shall see/Could be something saddening instead/Love missed its start/And I know why/’Cause when it’s really true/You don’t have to hide.” She continues in the song’s second verse, “And then apart from everything that we’ve been through/It’s suddenly brighter than light/I can’t believe the time/I wasted with you on my mind/And so I put pen to paper/In silence I want to speak/There’s nothing you can bring/That’s worth considering to stay.” As she reaches that final word, listeners hear what is supposed to be her walking out a door and heading out into the world on her own, humming and singing happily and so lightly. What’s so interesting about all of this is that looking at these lyrics, one would imagine they would be complimented with a certain either fiery Taylor Swift-esque arrangement or one of those equally standard oh-woe-is-me type arrangements that are so common in mainstream music. She didn’t go either route here. Rather, there is a certain sarcasm in her delivery here, along with just as much self-confidence. That gentle arrangement delivers the feeling that she has surpassed all the negative feelings, and is completely at one with herself. It really is such a unique stance that is rarely if ever heard in mainstream songs about broken relationships, which themselves are so overly commonplace in said realm. To that end, the approach here, both musically and lyrically make this song stand out so proudly. It makes the song one of the album’s most memorable moments. Adding even more interest here is the fact that the manner in which the song has been presented, it sounds like it would be a perfect fit for a modern stage musical. That is a compliment in and of itself. Keeping all of this in mind, ‘Hide’ proves to be just one of the works that makes ACCA such a notable new offering from Ala.ni.
Another of the most notable moments featured in the ACCA comes almost halfway through the record’s 28-minute (yes, an album that doesn’t even reach half an hour) run time in the form of ‘ShaLala.’ As is the case with ‘Hide,’ the arrangement at the center of ‘ShaLala’ is a full-on acoustic presentation. The combination of Ala.ni’s vocals and those of her fellow vocalists conjures thoughts of those a capella performances from Fox’s series Glee, only better. Yes, this critic went there. The whole of the light, “bouncy” vocal performances is an infectious performance that is certain to stick in listeners’ minds and ears in its own right.
The light, infectious arrangement is important to note because, as with ‘Hide,’ it doesn’t necessarily seem to go in line with the song’s lyrical content, yet actually does in a weird way. Once again, Ala.ni goes the rather sarcastic route. In fact, one could actually argue here that there is a comparison to Taylor Swift. That is the case as Ala.ni sings in the song’s lead verse, “When you told me the other day/That you wanted to come back to stay/It soothed me/You words/They soothed me, baby/Then I heard from one of your guys/All you told me really was a lie/It hurt me/Darling you hurt me/Hurt me/Sha la la/Won’t help me baby/Sha la la/Sounds lonely, baby/It’s awfully empty with you gone, baby/Someone to hug and trust/But I will never, ever forget your love/My young love, baby.” Rather than pouting and feeling sorry for herself, the song’s subject instead is essentially bidding that bad person a not so fond farewell. This is very much in line with Swift’s approach, so to that end, at least that comparison can be made, even though Ala.ni still presents something very unique here. Ala.ni continues in the song’s second verse, “You said right from the start/That you’d never break my heart/Well you’ve broke me/My word/You’ve choked me/And now I know that you’ve departed/If I see you at a party/Just dance with me/Say you’ll still dance with me.” Again, the song’s subject here doesn’t seem to necessarily be pining for that lost love. She seems, almost, to be somewhat okay with what happened and has come to terms with the situation. That is, again, much like the case in ‘Hide.’ It serves to show that break ups are not all bad, and that they are survivable. It’s just one more way in which this record proves so enjoyable. Both musically and lyrically, Ala.ni has taken the proverbial path less traveled, and has succeeded as a result of that decision. This is just one more way in which this statement is proven. ‘Away GO’ is one more example of the album’s strength.
‘Away GO’ stands out because, just as with ‘Hide,’ it comes across like something that fits in a stage musical. The difference is that because of the classical approach, it sounds like it would be a perfect fit to some classical stage musical, what with its full on a capella approach. Between her own vocal delivery and that of her fellow singers, the group creates an air of such a solemn, moving moment through their performance alone. The song’s lyrical content adds even more to that sense.
Ala.ni sings in the song’s lead verse, “Go away from my window/Go away from my door/Go away/away, away from my bedside/And bother me no more/I’ll go and tell my brothers/I’ll tell my sisters, too/That the reason my heart is broke/Is on account of you/It’s on account of you.” She continues in the song’s second verse, “I’ll give you back your letter/I’ll give you back your ring/But I’ll never forget my one true love/As long as songbirds sing/So go away from my window/Go away from my door/Go away/Away, Away from my bedside/And bother me no more.” The song is short, clocking in at only two-minutes, 20-seconds in length. It is simple in its musical and lyrical content, but a close listen shows that the noted collective content make the song so deep. One can see a character here, standing at a window, perhaps as the sun sets, singing the noted verses. It plays out, again, just like a scene from a musical, and hits just as hard, too. It is just one more way in which ACCA proves to be such a solid, new offering from Ala.ni. When it is considered along with the other songs addressed here and the likes of ‘Le Diplomate,’ ‘VanP,’ ‘In The Land’ and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the record proves fully engaging and entertaining with its varied, unique arrangements and equally unique approaches to some very familiar lyrical topics.
Ala.ni’s sophomore album ACCA is one of this year’s most unique and original full-length studio recordings. That is proven through the album’s unique musical arrangements and equally unique lyrical approaches to some very familiar topics. That is proven through all three of the songs addressed here and the rest of the album’s entries. Ala.ni and her fellow musicians and performers here have given audiences something that few if any other acts have done so far this year with this album in every aspect. They have succeeded in the process. To that end, they have crafted a work that is without argument, one of this year’s top new albums overall. More information on ACCA is available online along with all of Ala.ni’s latest news at:
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