Alice Howe – Circumstance
Recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL this is Alice Howe’s 2nd studio effort. Produced by Bonnie Raitt’s 70s bassist Freebo (fretless bass/acoustic guitar & harmony vocals) & Newton, MA-born Alice (lead & harmony vocals/acoustic & electric guitar) the 11-cut Circumstance (Drops April 21–Know-Howe Music) finds Ms. Howe confidently performing in a studio where she was surrounded by the spirit of a place where legendary artists & musicians came before her.
The collection proves FAME rubbed off on Alice Howe – it includes generous dips into Southern rock, country, folk, classic soul & the blues. Her writing sharpened by tranquil days in Vermont & her talent for observation & reflection shows in her expressive lyrics. An innovative singer-songwriter she can easily capture the ears of people who listen to music & not only dance to it.
Many songs are personable with sensitivity & poignancy. Her voice has originality & an approach that lends itself to the well-sculpted repertoire. Her commanding, authoritative voice is not sugar-coated or mediocre. What I find extremely attractive is her ability to emphasize the right lyric with the right note & vocal timbre. That takes skill.
Evident in the strong rocker “What About You” & “Somebody’s New Lover Now.” Exceptional country sparklers. Lots to like in these vibrant mixes of genres that are well-interpreted with masterful delivery & exciting tonality. Alice is augmented by superb musicianship & she comes across in a pulsating Mary Chapin-Carpenter/Kathy Mattea musical light. Alice’s expressive voice is smoothly refreshing like custard ice cream on a hot summer day.
But it’s her skill with lyrics (any artist who uses the word “perspective” in a lyric is my kind of girl). There are virtually no cliches & each line’s treated with importance. Freebo’s supple arrangements — consistently sophisticated & with a loose contemporary brilliance.
I have headphones, a cigar, my Old Crow sour mash bourbon, cheese & crackers – now I have to hope no one bothers me for 42 minutes while I listen to Alice. This is pure & delicious. One of 2023’s best albums – right here. Look no further. This isn’t just a singer – this is an artist.
Musicians – Jeff Fielder (rhythm, slide & lead guitar/harmony vocal), Will McFarlane (electric guitar), Clayton Ivey (Hammond B3/Wurlitzer/electric piano), Mark Jordan (acoustic & electric piano), Justin Holder (drums/percussion) with Vinnie Ciesielski (trumpet/flugelhorn), Mike Guinn (tenor/baritone saxes), Marie Lewey & Cindy Walden (bgv).
Highlights – All — “What About You,” “Love Has No Rules,” “Somebody’s New Lover Now,” “You’ve Been Away So Long,” “Let Go,” “Things I’m Not Saying,” “Something Calls To Me,” “With You By My Side,” “Line By Line,” “Travelin’ Soul,” & “It’s How You Hold Me.”
Beautifully stitched color photo insert with lyrics enclosed. Cover photo by Jim Shea. CD @ Amazon & https://www.alicehowe.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Video Premiere: Alice Howe 500 Miles