There is so much here to cast the listener back to the heady days when the musical giants such as Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill, Bonnie Koloc or Janis Ian were regular attendees in the album charts. As a 30 year veteran of the industry Alice DiMicele has been overshadowed by those who went before but she is as talented as any and more so than most.
From the list of supporting musicians here you can gather that she is held in high acclaim – Bill Payne (Little Feat), Skip Edwards (Dwight Yoakam), Vince Herman & Andy Thom (Leftover Salmon) – but they are all held in place by some sublime songwriting and breathtaking vocals and guitar from Ms DiMicele.
For someone to have this much talent and still remain relatively unknown is faintly ridiculous but it is the loss of all those who haven’t heard her and hopefully this album might make a difference.
The album opens with a belter in ‘Let Your Soul Fly Free’: Skip Edwards Hammond creating a wonderful soulful base to the music and his pedal steel providing vaulting emotions before the vocals come in, gospelly and laden with soul: Damian Erskine’s bass is the glue that holds the whole song together and he does so with aplomb. Touches of The Band at their best and if the rest of the album didn’t have a single good track this would be enough to make it a must buy but it just leads into ‘If I Could Move The World’ and that takes it to a whole other level – the shimmering background just hangs there, projecting her vocals out and the track has a jazzy, soulful and folky texture that draws you down, deeper and deeper into the heart of it. Thomas Mackay’s vibes and Mikey Stevens muted trumpet give you chills and DiMicele’s vocals weave in and out of them meandering but so focused at the same time. The title track is a slice of funk that works on every level with subtle horns and great beats against her sexy vocals.
She touches on the sultry and the sweet and her voice, always expressive, has a dark warmth to it. She writes words that suit her style and manages to carry an emotive quality without diving into the overblown or overwrought. She is a singer of remarkable quality, at one moment as naïve as Laura Nyro and at others as sexy and sassy as Maria Muldaur.
The album closes with the only cover on the album – the Grateful Dead’s ‘Ripple’ – and she avoids any comparison with a song that is dear to the heart of any Deadhead. The song is the same and the structure familiar but her voice gives the number texture and passion that the Dead don’t really manage.
The album is a complete surprise – a good one – and makes me want to delve into the lady’s back catalogue. This is a very special album and one that will be getting regular plays for some time to come.