An album that transcends any accepted conventions for female singer-songwriters.
Al Fox 2011-07-05
As 28-year-old Londoner Alice Gold unveils her debut album, she finds herself lumped with two tags: the obligatory ‘female singer-songwriter’, and the textbook ‘new face’. And while there’s little to contest the former, the tales of loss, guts and adventure she imparts prove she’s no wet-behind-the-ears newcomer.
Seven Rainbows is bookended by futuristic folk-pop – opener Seasons Change is a breezy, modest number, while The End of the World’s pensive blues brings proceedings to a close. But it’s everything in-between where Gold really means business.
While her aptitude for a gentle, swaying melody would lend itself to a whole album of unassuming acoustica, there’s nothing resembling such an easy ride here. Jittery beats, abrasive licks and clandestine electro-squelches shift the tone pretty quickly; to where it’s shifted exactly is hard to determine, but that’s all part of the fun. The same quandary extends to Gold’s voice, a superbly versatile, venom-flecked instrument which hovers over the label of dulcet for mere seconds, before disclosing a resolute, punchy quality.
Wisely, producer Dan Carey (Franz Ferdinand, Sia, Miles Kane) has allowed the unrestrained, commanding vocals to take the lead, building his vigorous twangs around Gold to great effect, best demonstrated on the kooky shuffle of Orbiter and the unruly, confrontational Fairweather Friend.
Seven Rainbows stubbornly insists on beating a path exclusively its own, and while its key pleasures come in the form of its off-kilter darkness, those same aspects may scare off a broader audience. Who that audience is raises another question – Gold may be turning heads at Radio 2, but it’s a wonder Radio 1 haven’t yet latched on to the noise-making, attitude-laden passion displayed here.
Not that demographics matter a great deal. Given even the smallest opportunity to shine, Seven Rainbows will take care of itself nicely. Not only does it offer a bejewelled porthole into the flair of Alice Gold, but it’s an album that transcends any accepted conventions of ‘female singer-songwriter’, and lays the foundations for a rock star.