Alice Smith For Lover, Dreamers & Me

At a time when pop-centric commercial radio is as rigid and wholly contrived as it has ever been, a new generation of genre-bending artists are fighting for space in an increasingly exclusionary pop world using music that’s at once progressive and entirely accessible. For Lover, Dreamers & Me, the debut disc from budding NYC songstress Alice Smith, falls squarely into this group, combining the sweet sounds of classic soul, rock, and slinky old-time jazz with a pop sensibility that invites the listener to explore these undeniably connected genres as the singer herself does. Smith bursts with attitude as she slides from a delicate purr to an Aretha Franklin-type roar on album opener "Dream,” riding a building soul sound that remembers the orchestral richness of the ’70s. That attitude continues on "Gary Song,” a raucous four-on-the-floor number that breaks down into some classic Elton John-styled theatrics for the hook, while Smith goes bluesy and lets her voice swallow the room on the forceful "Desert Song.” Through all of the sonic exploration that comprises this set, Smith never relinquishes that accessibility factor, an important point that results a in disc that’s deep enough to impress the self-challenging listener while carrying a sound that could actually see radio play. (BBE)