Published Jan 01, 2006"It's almost like a genre within itself, isn't it?" asks Alice Russell from a Brighton, UK park with the sound of small children playing in the background. The conversation involves the diva-driven R&B that currently rules the airwaves and continues to churn out carbon copies, focusing on fashion and vocal gymnastics above everything else. And then there are true sirens such as Alice Russell, whose sophomore Tru Thoughts release, My Favourite Letters, showcases the chanteuse's naturally dynamic range and pure raw talent, elements that seemed lost when the '80s rolled in. So who stole the soul?
"You have teachers getting involved and telling people how to sing and no one wants anything to sound different," Russell reckons when it comes to the majority of today's chart toppers, citing that heavy production has completely watered down the essence of a singer's voice. "They want it all packaged and it has to sound like the others. No one really wants to let it rip." Thankfully Russell is an exception that doesn't hold back, as the little woman with a massive range is finally turning heads overseas, where young girls are already being conditioned to tailor their voices to Jessica Simpson, not Minnie Riperton.
"Singers should be left to develop," says Russell, whose soul-drenched vocal style bloomed on its own. "I think when you're younger it takes you a while to fully express yourself because it's such a weird and amazing thing to use your voice in that way to have a good old channel right from your little heart to your voice." And the same apparently goes for your other organs as well. "The liver bit is always good," she laughs. "Get it a little mashed up first before you're 80."