23 year old Alice Jemima is one of those self producing, from her bedroom type, up and coming artists that works hard and gets noticed then snowballs. Being able to produce her signature sound initially completely independently with the help of GarageBand and a hefty desire to perform and create music. She began writing songs when she was 12 and her talent only seemed to grow. 10 years on and her version of Blackstreet's No Diggity seemed to build traction for her and was the breakthrough for her, gaining her solid views on soundcloud and gleaned interest from the likes of Rob Da Bank, who owns the label she is now signed to, Sunday Best Recordings. She also played at Exeter's Radio 1's Big Weekend last year and landed herself a spot at Bestival 2016, not a bad start!
I listened to her debut album, to be released on the 3rd March to see what all the hype's about. The idea of it excited me because she's from a small town near where I grew up in Devon, and it's exciting to have a young, inspiring musician coming out of that environment to potentially motivate an entire group of younger musicians to realise they can pursue a musical career. As a musician knowing fully well how limited the arts scene is in Devon, flourishing and phenomenal where it is, with a wonderfully welcoming and talented crowd to start spreading your musical wings, but it is hard as a young aspiring musician to break boundaries and come into your own within it, although Alice Jemima seems to be really going for it.
Alice blends breathy vocals with electronic production, creating this contemporary, commercial, catchy style that seems to work well for her. Her lyrical content throughout this album seems to signify that this is an album related to love, loss and hindsight with a huge focus on self discovery also.
The opening track "Electric" sets the tone for the thematic development throughout the album. She talks about that addictive spark you experience with someone initially, and then throughout the album the tale seems to unfold and become more bittersweet and like the evolution and eventual destruction of a relationship or romantic endeavour, with a self discovering positive plot twist at the end.
This theme continues throughout the album, with that electronic buzz underlying the entirety of it accompanied by building choruses and layering of those honey smooth vocals. "Liquorice" is the first single she released from the album, it involves a different style of percussion than used previously in the album that adds a new depth and vibe. She explains this track is "a song about trying to please other people, and then drifting off into this imaginary world to try and please yourself." Which becomes more apparent the further through the album you get, track 7 it is clear she is starting to focus on herself and her own desires.
Her lyricism and sultry tones combined create a silky smooth electronic lullaby that bares slight nostalgic resonance. "Fall Out of Love" seems to be the metaphorical limbo of the album, the line between leaving and staying, not being ready to let go but knowing something's wrong. To me it seemed to have a more Spanish underlying beat, but a lot more laid back, which gave it the kind of vibe you could slowly sway to. So, Track 7 is a contextually more riff heavy song, and builds up a lot more than the tracks so far in the album, the lyricism seems to be more about the realisation of what she wants instead of pandering to others needs and this theme continues to be put forward from now on in the album, this is when it starts be a little less like every other love based album and starts being self focused.
Her cover of Blackstreet's "No Diggity" is featured on this album relatively near the end and continues on this theme of breathy vocals, doesn't really build up or drop at all, just seems to stay relatively neutral, has a lot more acoustic style riffs throughout this track though along with piano accompaniment which does add a new depth. As a stand alone track this one is a lot more interesting and I can understand why this would be the track that caught the attention of listeners, and got her discovered, as you can pick up on the potential she has to build on even though it's not fully developed.
"Live For Now" almost had an old cinematic vibe to it, with synthesised violins and a drawled style of vocals, with the addition of the electronic element it reminded me of Lana Del Rey. I enjoyed this track and it seems to be a resolute track that does come to a head and is nostalgically melancholic in sound yet uplifting in lyricism, but again does involve that repetition of vocal hook.
"Cocoa liquor" is the penultimate track and is predominantly guitar riff and bouncy vocals that transitions nicely into the final track "Take me Back". This tune is quite different from the rest of the tracks, Spanish sounding again and sunny in disposition, which is odd for the resolution of an album that you presume is about heartbreak, but it's a positive outlook on self discovery through the interaction with another person, defining your choices and making you realise what's important and to focus on your own journey of understanding.
To summarise, Alice Jemima has released a solid, marketable and commercial record that with the backing of Rob Da Bank, I'm sure will go a long way. I'd be very interested in seeing where she goes from here, maybe her compelling riffs and bass lines may evolve even further with a little more experimentation. She definitely has a unique style which has been developed over years of practice and this comes shining through in her lyricism and vocal hooks. This is a solid foundation and I look forward to following her creative journey and an even more exhilarating sound in the future.
'Alice Jemima' is out on March 3rd and available from all good record shops (and online)
Review by Sadie Fox