Tag Archives: Alison May Loved/Dark

Alison May – Loved/Dark Album Review

Alison May is a folk singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who has been performing, writing and recording out of Oakland, CA since relocating from Texas in 2012. Her change of scenery seemed to awaken a more layered and experimental side which is carefully captured in her sophomore release, Loved/Dark. She started tracking without any prepared arrangements and instead opted to let each track speak through experimentation. Ultimately she found the right instrumentations, making Loved/Dark the result of patient layering and wild guesses as to what would fulfil the potential of each song.

The album starts with Not Pictured, But Present which is a short yet dramatic instrumental number before My Own Good. My Own Good is the first track with vocals as Not Pictured, But Present is absent of this. My Own Good shows off May’s unusual vocals – they’re airy yet with those distinct slightly deeper, bass like tones. The song builds and becomes hectic towards the end but this just adds to the track to make it feel alive and totally real. It’s a brilliant track to have near the start of this superb album.

Helen is the opposite of My Own Good. It’s upbeat and a totally indulgent summer track. There’s inspiration taken from jazz heard on the acoustic guitar. Not only are there strong jazz elements coming forward from the acoustic guitar, the electric guitar is very apparent in this song. It’s one of the central instruments for the rhythm in most tracks but this song has the distinctive, echoing electric guitar riff carrying the melody as well as parts of the rhythm. Helen is hard to place into a genre – it’s just a feel good folk/jazz track that breaks boundaries both musically and vocally. The vocals are sketchy, wild and uncontrollable which makes this track powerful and passionate.

Alison May Loved/Dark

Groundbreaking folk singer/songwriter, Alison May

A few tracks on and Bad Timing makes its appearance. This song is a space filled song, if that makes sense. There’s an absence of music here. There’s the drum cymbals crashing, quite a repetitive acoustic guitar riff and a bass guitar heard on the odd note and that’s about it. This idea of exclusion of lots of instruments actually empowers this song more. It leaves room for the song to breath, to expand and to become something much more soulful. It’s simplicity at its best – at its best as it actually feels like there’s lots more going on here than there is.

Ophelia is next with its gentle, soothing, jazz inspired soft drum beat and brilliant acoustic guitar riffs. Ophelia has a breathtakingly beautiful swaying melody which only intensifies May’s unique voice.

Raft is a previous release but you’ll never get bored of hearing its beautiful slightly unusual riff on the guitar which is repeated throughout and really gets stuck in your head. This is one of the songs that you are bound to remember after hearing this record. The lyrics are sung beautifully, reminding me of an American summer road trip, running to escape from everything, “Keep out…I’ll leave town if you ever came looking for me” You can find a sense of freedom and peace in this track; it brings to mind ideas of hazy summer evenings, a love lost, a sense of a new beginning and all of this happening while being surrounded by nature and purity. It’s simply beautiful.

The end track, 10×2, is a little bit Jeff Buckley on the echoing guitar riff and the entirely solemn nature of the vocals. It’s a saddening song to end on but one that demonstrates just how triumphant an album Loved/Dark is.

Loved/Dark is out now.

 

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Alison May Shares New Video For Raft

Alison May is a folk singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who has been performing, writing and recording out of Oakland, CA since relocating from Texas in 2012. Her change of scenery seemed to awaken a more layered and complex side of her approach which is carefully captured in her sophomore release, Loved/Dark. The album is set for an updated July 29 release date on Misery Loves Co. and yesterday the video for the album single Raft hit The WILD Mag. The double-exposed video captures a real life slice of Alison’s day to day on the rougher edges of the Oakland CA warehouse district and the DIY vibe that permeates her perspective. She’s also announced her album release show for July 29 at Awaken Cafe in Oakland.

Alison started tracking without any prepared arrangements and instead opted to let each track speak through experimentation. Ultimately she found the right instrumentations, making Loved/Dark the result of patient layering and wild guesses as to what would fulfil the potential of each song. The album includes guests George Weber (vibraphone), whose mysterious bowing techniques are notable in both Raft and other album cut, My Own Good. Alison’s debut album, Earnest Keep, worked without any bass parts but Loved/Dark needed a touch of girth from the presence and playing of Michael Jude. The patience of producer/engineer Jeff Price (ex-Mornin’ Old Sport) was perhaps the greatest contribution to the record, rolling with the punches and staying in the moments of additions, subtractions or reversed decisions throughout the process.

Loved/Dark is a reflection of Alison’s ability to not only grow as a songwriter and performer but also as a storyteller and explorer. Pre-order the album here.

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Alison May Announces Release Of New Album, Loved/Dark

Alison May is a folk singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who has been performing, writing and recording out of Oakland, CA since relocating from Texas in 2012. Her change of scenery seemed to awaken a more layered and experimental side which is carefully captured in her sophomore release, Loved/Dark. The album is set for a July 29 release on Misery Loves Co. and the first window into the album is captured in the first single Raft available now via Soundcloud.

Her home town of Waxahachie was about an hour’s drive from anywhere. This meant she spent a lot of time in the car with her father, listening to artists like Jackson Browne, Nick Drake and Tracy Chapman. She was only a drummer at the time but songs like Telling Stories, Pink Moon and The Pretender made Alison want to wander out of the rhythm section. This desire bred Alison into not only a singer/songwriter but a recording artist who would play almost every instrument for her albums, creating an exact replication of her imagined arrangements.

Alison May

Folk singer/songwriter, Alison May

Alison started tracking without any prepared arrangements and instead opted to let each track speak through experimentation. Ultimately she found the right instrumentations, making Loved/Dark the result of patient layering and wild guesses as to what would fulfil the potential of each song. The album includes guests George Weber (vibraphone) whose mysterious bowing techniques are notable in both Raft and other album cut, My Own Good. Alison’s debut album, Earnest Keep, worked without any bass parts but Loved/Dark needed a touch of girth from the presence and playing of Michael Jude. The patience of producer/engineer Jeff Price (ex-Mornin’ Old Sport) was perhaps the greatest contribution to the record, rolling with the punches and staying in the moments of additions, subtractions or reversed decisions throughout the process.

In 2013, Alison promoted the release of her first album, Earnest Keep, with two regional tours through the south and midwest, one of which was by way of an Amtrak train. In between tours, Alison was in the snowy masses of Carbondale, Colorado, tracking Loved/Dark which she plans to support with a national tour this summer with an additional run of shows in the U.K.

Loved/Dark is a reflection of Alison’s ability to not only grow as a songwriter and performer but also as a storyteller and explorer.

Loved/Dark will be released on July 29 via Misery Loves Co.

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