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Amy Alley – I’m Not Perfect
Amy Alley checked her inhibitions at the door when she set out to write the thirteen tracks that would eventually constitute her debut release, I’m Not Perfect. With lyrics that breathe sincerity, and a recognizable dedication to the mountain folk tradition, these are heartfelt and earnest songs from a musician that one can easily imagine as possessing those same qualities.
There isn’t a track on the album that shies away from the personal, privy or intimate. Howling out of North Carolina, singer/songwriter Amy Alley has chosen to enter the music scene with her cards on the table. Heavily influenced by her upbringing among a colorful, diverse bunch in Charlotte, NC, she draws upon her own experiences, braving tough subjects like sexuality and religion. She takes the listener by the hand and guides them through the act of self-discovery, breaking down those experiences into their rawest parts and putting them on display.
Visceral, suggestive imagery pervades the low and dragging opener, “Think of Me – Fill the Hole.” Like many of the tracks to come, it explores topics of love and lust. Alley’s vocals take the form of an in-your-face incantation, often directly addressing the various subjects of her songs.
Confessions are a recurring theme throughout I’m Not Perfect. “Not Mama’s Girl” explores religious upbringings and the search for individuality beyond them. “Delicate Little Hands” tells the story of a young girl’s affectionate gesture and its profound effect on the singer. Amy Alley has the talent and ability to take commonplace events, to unravel and examine them, and incorporate them into thought-provoking material.
While elements of the folk genre remain intact, the album still has range and personality. The music reflects the sentiment of the lyrics, sometimes raw and forceful, at other times hushed and mild. The arrangement is for the most part simple – a standard set-up of guitar, bass and drums. Synth fills out the country/pop-rock mash-up “I’m Not Perfect,” and “Butterfly” is the only track that seems to have fallen victim to heavy-handed production. Amy Alley isn’t afraid to get technical with her playing either as the guitar flourishes in “Reasons to Stay” and “Probably Should.”
Spoken word numbers put the musician’s poetic sensibility on display, and they standout for their heightened emotion. “Anyway” speaks to the politics of sexual orientation in a fresh and understated way. “Newark When It’s Raining” is about Alley’s own disappointment with the unfair expectations of work life, giving us a hint towards her motivations for pursuing music.
The album’s title speaks to a larger truth regarding Amy’s work in that there is still room for growth and refinement. At times, the vocals are a little pitchy and the rhythms struggle to find consistency. There are subtle miscues on this album that may be audible to the attentive ear, and they take away from its presentation as a whole.
I’m Not Perfect is the stuff of late night, long distance phone calls to old friends and former lovers. Each track strikes as an entry in the diary that might occupy Amy Alley’s bedside table. The good news is: there are still many pages left unfilled. There is plenty of room for growth, and this musician has a lot to offer with her fearless brand of confessional folk. Her debut album marks the beginning of what will hopefully be a successful and prolific musical career.
Rating: 3/5 stars!
Album Name: I’m Not Perfect
Date Released: February, 2012
Genre(s): Folk, Spoken Word
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Band Members: Amy Alley
Reverb Nation: http://www.reverbnation.com/amyalley
About Curtis LeBlancCurtis LeBlanc writes out of Vancouver, British Columbia. You can find him on twitter here: https://twitter.com/#!/soupfromthecan.
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