A Fine Frenzy, One Cell in the Sea (Virgin Records, 2007)

A Fine Frenzy is a one-woman band consisting of singer/pianist Alison Sudol. Only 22, Sudol shows considerable promise as a songwriter with a strong sense of melody on A Fine Frenzy's debut CD One Cell in the Sea. I suppose the combination of the piano and the red hair will draw comparisons, among those who are older than Sudol, to Tori Amos. But while A Fine Frenzy has been marketed towards the indie rock audience, Sudol's writing style reminds me more of the pop sensibilities of Carole King than any recent or contemporary alternative music.

On One Cell in the Sea, Sudol mixes soft ballads in with mid-tempo rockers. Ironically, given her choice of a musical name, she doesn't get particularly frenzied at any point on the record. While Sudol's piano is the instrumental focus on most tracks, there is plenty of orchestration and programming as well, along with the standard rock band accompaniment. Sudol's lyrics deal with love, loss, and the broad spectrum of emotions that go with them. The heartbreak in the single "Almost Lover" is a bit obvious, but Sudol more than makes up for it with the joyously upbeat "You Picked Me." This is the kind of love song that will even win over people who generally hate love songs. Another highlight is the song "Rangers," about the need to find a quiet space with your lover where the outside world won't find you.

Stylistically, One Cell in the Sea is not the kind of album I normally buy, being a little quiet on the whole. The fact that it contains a few songs that grabbed my attention, then, serves as testament to Alison Sudol's talent as a songwriter. Hopefully she'll be given plenty of opportunity to refine her craft even further.

Overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

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