Dilly Dally Alley – Make You Whole
This Minneapolis-based band provides a hybrid of jazz grooves, upbeat shuffles, neo-soul & funk with densely arranged tunes. While not all songs adhere to these genres simultaneously they do encompass the majority of the arrangements.
Produced by Sophia Spiegel (vocals/guitars/cello) & Adam Tucker (percussion) the 9 Make You Whole (Drops May 12–DillyDallyAlleyMusic) songs were recorded in Minneapolis, MN. The opener “Reaching Out To The Blue Sky,” has wild brass rooted in the Centipede style (Septober Energy LP) that featured Keith Tippet & was produced by King Crimson’s Robert Fripp (1971). The vocals that intercede with “Give Yourself Up To Yourself,” & “See How She Moves” both are loosely based on the jazzy style of Keith’s wife Julie Driscoll-Tippet. She was the lead vocalist for years in Brian Auger’s Trinity & Oblivion Express then went to a solo career with “Sunset Glow,” where similarities with Dilly Dally Alley reside.
The effort on “Make You Whole,” will appeal to an audience familiar with Julie’s work. It’s like an extension of her early work where it would respectfully be today. Vocalist Sophia Spiegel is actually quite accomplished with this low-brow jazzy atmospheric moody showcase. The keyboard work is subtle & articulate with its notes. The brass when it punctuates the air is plaintive & airy providing excellent support to the lyrical forays.
This isn’t Blood, Sweat & Tears, or Chicago brass – it’s anchored more in an old English style of innocent quicksilver moments with beat generation-type poetic lyrics. Free-association language & laid-back stinging brass conveyed with jazzy techniques.
Carla Bley experimented early (“Escalator Over the Hill”) with this sound & South American bossa nova vocalists like Astrud Gilberto & pop chanteuse Claudine Longet touched upon it as well. Dilly Dally Alley relies heavily on electric keyboards but despite my dislike of those notes, it is supported with expertise by their drummer who lays down some gratifying creative beats all around the keyboard dynamic.
The effort is formidable. Sophia’s sleek “Beloved Beckons” & amply captures the soft-bluesy-jazz vocals of Madeleine Peyroux & phrasing mindful of the late Laura Nyro. This is soulful & has nice brass framing. Perhaps the most accessible of all. There’s nothing commercial or mainstream with these musical torrents. It’s challenging like Laurie Andersen, Julee Cruise & Jane Wiedlin. These are well-performed pieces. A lesser singer wouldn’t render these interesting, but Sophia has the proper tonality, intonation, phrasing & vocal range to generate a bluster between instruments.
Highlights – “Reaching Out To The Blue Sky,” “Give Yourself Up To Yourself,” “See How She Moves,” “Beloved Beckons,” “Bathtub Born,” “Make You Whole” & “You’re Not the One.”
Musicians – Ivan Cunningham (alto sax), Mitch Van Laar (trumpet), Levi Schwartzberg (keys), Max Voda (bass/violin), Ben Ehrlich & Kevin Yetter (drums). Features: Will Kjeer (keys 2 tracks).
Photos from their website & by Steven Garcia. The CD includes an accordion-style folded lyric sheet. CD @ Bandcamp + https://www.dillydallyalleyband.com/