REVIEW: Alice Wallace Brings Soul to Country on ‘Into the Blue’

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Alice Wallace is a country artist from Orange County, California, who has embraced traditional country to the point that she has been known to yodel in some songs. On Into the Blue, Wallace shows that while she is comfortable as a country realm, she is pretty adept at crafting songs with other elements and styles.

One of the styles into which she branches is soul. You can hear hints of it in “The Lonely Talking” – particularly in the organ part by Jeremy Long. “When She Cries” is an even better example of the soul aspect of the album. When you hear this song, it’s hard not to think about Tedeschi Trucks Band. The choir (Wallace, Jennifer Gibbons, Pi Jacobs, KP Hawthorn) brings a soulful feel that sounds equally influenced by old-time gospel. Meanwhile the melody of “Same Old Song” feels something like an Irma Thomas song. Johnny Hawthorn plays a clean and slow-burning guitar part that sets the tone that is backed nicely by the horn section.

Though she does branch out, this is very much a country album – just not a country album that fits easily into any mold. “Motorcycle Ride” is a country hit waiting to happen. This is an example of classic country storytelling. Girl meets boy and goes for a motorcycle ride. That’s the essence of the story, but the larger lesson is to step outside what you normally do and embrace something different. It’s the kind of message you’ve heard in countless country songs. “Desert Rose” is not only another good story, but also works some Tex-Mex sound into it with the trumpet by Nic Chaffee and the violin by Kaitlin Wolfberg. This song is similar in style to some of the songs on Lindi Ortega’s Liberty album.

This is an interesting album. It’s not the pop country that is so prevalent in Nashville. Nor is it the twangy country of dark honky tonks. These songs sound a lot like the songs Linda Ronstadt sang when she was just getting started. The songs are emotional without being overwrought. She has a voice that doesn’t have to strain to be powerful. Rather it works perfectly with the instrumentation, and that is why it so powerful. One listen to this album and you’ll realize that Wallace could sing an economics textbook and make it sound good. Into the Blue (Rebelle Road Records) will be available everywhere on January 18. Order your copy here:

 

 

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