Alyson Greenfield is a singer/guitarist/pianist from Brooklyn by way of Alabama. Here’s my attempt to explain why you should definitely check her out.
The trees look like bones here.
Those are the words that open up her first full length album Tuscaloosa. The track of the same name is a slow piano piece that reminds me very much of one of my favorite artists, Charlotte Martin, while her voice is almost a Norah Jones meets Rachel Yamagata with maybe Christina Courtin thrown in. That’s the best way I can really describe it. The other way is really, really good. The songs on the album alternate from more serious slow piano pieces to acoustic guitar grooves like “School” or “Sometimes I”, even going into electronic territory in “Human Behavior” or “Glockenspiel”. There’s a strong feminist message in “Young Girl In The Music World” that vaguely reminds me of Amy Ray’s “Lucystoners” message wise.
And a body’s just a body, but it’s not just anybody and my body is my body so I kinda care who touches it.
In fact the feminist message is all over the album, and there’s nothing I love more than a good girl power song (yeah I know it’s weird, you don’t need to say anything), and she’s extended that even further by playing things like Ladyfest. But while there is some anger here (“You gotta kick them in the shins if you have to. And kick them in the balls if that won’t do.”), there’s also hurt, and a sense of “why the fuck would you treat me like that?”. In the song “School” she tells a true story of how when she was a kid she wore a costume and thought she was dressing as a punk rock chick and some boy asked her if she was dressed as a prostitute, something she was too young to even know what it was.
Overall Tuscaloosa is a very enjoyable album with great laid back music that you can chill to and lyrics that have wit, message, and can still be humorous. Also another thing I have to mention about the album is how incredible it sounds. The production, mixing, and mastering are all impeccable and you could easily put this up next to any expensively recorded album and not notice a difference, where in this area I find far too many indie albums are lacking.
But live Alyson shows a different side. Here her personality shines brightly from the stage and energy radiates from her. When I recently saw her at Shea Stadium in Brooklyn (full disclosure: my own band had just played before her) she covered Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” on a xylophone and somehow even though it was hilarious watching a tiny, adorable, very white girl singing this song, on a xylophone of all things she somehow managed to make the lyrics feel almost as if they were her own. She also did “Bad Boys”, you know the cops theme, and “Milkshake”. Clearly she has a very good sense of humor.
I can say with all honesty that if you like good solid lyricists who play good relaxing music you’ll love Alyson Greenfield.
Here she is singing her song “Understand The Sky” with Future Rock doing a remix at Music Hall of Williamsburg recently:
That remix is very different than the original, but it shows that good lyrics can translate universally. You can hear the original at her MySpace or read more about her at her website, where you can also find links to purchase her music. Or buy directly from the always recommended CDBaby
She’s playing a show November 13th at Santos Party House at 96 Lafayette Street in Manhattan at 8pm. I highly suggest you go. You might even catch me there.