My Favourite Letters

Alice Russell

2005: Tru Thoughts TRUCD082

  1. All Else Can Wait
  2. What We Want!
  3. Humankind
  4. Mean to Me
  5. A Fly in the Hand
  6. To Know This
  7. I’m Just Here
  8. Munkaroo
  9. All Over Now
  10. High Up on the Hook
  11. Mirror Mirror on the Wolf—‘Tell the Story Right’
  12. Remember to Forget

I had never heard (nor heard of) Alice Russell until July 2007, and when I first heard her I was sure I was listening to some mighty early-’70s American soul singer whose career had been overshadowed by those of others. It was a bit of a shock, and certainly a thrill, to discover that I was wrong on all counts: she’s a contemporary, British, white singer/songwriter, and what I was hearing was a small concert being broadcast live by the still-fantastic Parisian radio station Radio Nova (101.5) (via their website).

That concert, somewhere in France on 19 July 2007, was performed by her and only a few other musicians (guitarists and a violinist)—I recall specifically that they didn’t even have a drummer, for some reason that didn’t sound intentional. But my god, what a show!! Russell was blisteringly hot, roaring some of the best soul singing I’ve ever heard. When she and the guitarists hammered home the end of “Munkaroo,” I dove into action to hunt down anything I could about this singer and to get me a copy of whatever she’d released that had that song in particular; the live version outstripped the one on this CD, but even so you can get a taste of the heat and power as her husky pipes chirp and wail throughout the jumpy ride.

Her multitracked vocal arrangements intrigue me. This is an album to study and savor over time and many, many fine drinks as strong and tasty as it is itself.