I heard of singer/songwriter Lindsay Aline from a Facebook ad. I just happened to glance over when I was playing Cafe World (don’t judge me) and see her name. I’m all about finding gems of albums and artists that few people have heard about, and which I think more people should know about, and I found her background intriguing. However, I did not get her CD until very recently, when she and her managers sent out a call for bloggers interested in reviewing her debut album, Illusion. I received the album in the mail about two months ago, and since then, I’ve listened to it quite a bit.
Lindsay Aline does not seem to be a person who shies away from heartbreaking honesty. Her biography mentions a fall into disillusionment and discouragement and eventual burnout, a painful situation for any artist to go through. She makes no secret of her struggle to find her voice and regain her love of music. Such experience and maturity makes its way into empowering themes such as those in the title track, “Illusion.”
As for first impressions, I was struck by the beauty of her voice. There is this lovely soaring, ethereal quality to it which reminds me somewhat of Enya. She has cultivated a very pure sound, and I think here is where her classical influence is most obvious. Her voice stands out from a lot of the other artists I know partly because of this very “refined” sound, with a certain calm elegance, for lack of a better way to describe it. I think most prominent artists (Sara Bareilles, Brooke Fraser, Taylor Swift) in the music industry nowadays tend to be self-taught, and Lindsay’s extensive background of arts songs and arias is fairly unique in this regard.
She’s also pretty cute.
Further evidence of her musical training shows. Her diction is very clear and precise. I never have a problem making out the lyrics, and this is a plus because I often feel as if I’m struggling to hear lyrics in otherwise sound albums (Brooke Fraser’s voice is hard for me to make out sometimes). Her range is incredibly versatile: in the title track “Illusion,” her voice soars nearly effortlessly (perhaps there is some tension the higher it goes, but still) into melismas that I can’t even attempt to reach. In the next track, “What Would It Be Like,” her voice dips beautifully into a lower range with more somber thematic material. Though I favor her lower range and wish she would use it more, she does showcase her higher range more.
As an arranger, Lindsay Aline is particularly skilled at bringing together voices and instruments and sounds to forge an unique effect. What stands out to me is the layering of voices in songs such as “Reach” and “Eye Contact.” Linking all these different styles and instruments and sounds is Lindsay Aline’s expressive voice, which remains pure, ethereal, yet strong throughout each track.
However, with all that said, I come to the weakest part of the album: her lyrics. Even before I became a literature major, I’ve loved words. When listening to a pop album, words are what pull me in, even more so sometimes than the beat or the melody. If a song has a good melody but poor lyrics, I might be disinclined to listen to it again. If a song has good lyrics but a blah melody, I might listen to it a couple of times more before putting it aside. If a song has good melodies and good lyrics, that will probably be my new favorite song, and I will listen it to death.
Lindsay Aline’s lyrics are not horrible, but they could use a lot of tightening up. Certain passages seem clunky and awkward, placed at odds with Lindsay’s smooth voice and her flowing melody.
From “Eye Contact”:
Eyes wander a crowd, search for a match
Heart recognize the heat, another pair trying to catch
This is probably one of my favorites of the album, in terms of melody. However, these lyrics gave me pause. While I can identify with the theme of meeting someone one enchanted evening, I’m not sure the lyrics truly capture this magic. To me, it seems as if a lot of the words were used just to fit the melody, or to make the syllables match, rather than melody into words and vice versa.
Please, please, please shine again, please
They say that dark is void of light
I want to help, I want to be support
Again, “dark is void of light” was perhaps not the smoothest word choice. Perhaps another word to describe these lyrics is “obvious,” and especially in that last line I used in the example. The expressions and metaphors Lindsay uses can be kind of cliche at times.
Lindsay Aline at her release concert
But I am not here to give a critique her lyrics. In spite of this weakness, I truly enjoyed the first song, “Reach,” with its ultimately upbeat message. And of course there’s “Illusion” as well as the aforementioned contemplative “What Would It Be Like,” which drew me in with its wandering melody and Lindsay’s gorgeous lower register. The more I listened to that song, the more I fell in love with it.
And then there’s “What a Day,” impossibly catchy and with lyrics I can honestly say are truly magical. Set against a backdrop of simple piano and guitar, with Lindsay’s expressive voice, this song truly evoked the feeling of sun, oceans of miracles, and “ends we can’t see.”
I loved it.
In terms of songwriting, Lindsay Aline, though promising, has some ways to go. Even though I am not a fan of her lyrics, I am confident that she will tighten up her records with a little more time, experience and experimentation. I wish her luck in her music career, and look forward to seeing what else she comes up with. I really believe she has a big future ahead of her, and I am sure that she will embrace that future with fearlessness.
*Apologies about the lateness in reviewing! Finals caught up to me somewhat, and though I had notes, I did not have the time to sit down and put them together. To Lindsay Aline’s management team, thank you for your patience!
Samples of Illusion are available to listen on Lindsay Aline’s website here.
To purchase, go here.
Pictures are from website and facebook page, and are used only with Lindsay Aline’s permission.