Alyse Black began her singing career in Seattle around Pike Place Market when she moved to the Northwest after growing up abroad. Her intense voice draws listeners in immediately and begs them to stay awhile.
The singer-songwriter possesses a sultry voice and plays indie pop that is infused with jazz, rock and folk elements, and her sound has drawn comparisons to Norah Jones, Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk, Feist and the ever-changing Regina Spektor, for whom Black's voice sounds most reminiscent.
"Too Much & Too Lovely" was Black's first album released back in 2007, and immediately became recognized in the music world. The record won Billboard's Annual World Song Contest in Jazz that year, among many other awards. Black's sophomore album, "Hold Onto This," was recorded and produced by Ryan Hadlock of The Strokes, Foo Fighters, and Blonde Redhead fame and was released in October of this year. Though only a few months old, the album has already been getting much play with Black on tour representing the work.
"Strange (Used Me Up)" is the first track off "Hold Onto This," and in it Black refers to a man who used her up and left her, and she no longer allows him to call her "strange," a term of endearment. "So these socks have holes/ now you've worn them through/ well scout's honor I gave/ my all to you...but I'm not your strange anymore," is a slow-paced track with guitar strumming and drums, as well as a tropical sound effect. In this track, the Norah Jones influence on Black is palpable.
The third track off the album, "Forever Fairytales" shares a scenario that is pleasantly surprising: falling in love faster than one anticipated. "I've been thinking maybe we could sign a two-year contract/ I mean I've never said I love you to a boy so fast/ you make me feel like I could press your soul into mine...oh boundaries abound/ my taste buds scream in overdrive." The incredibly relatable lyrics Black forms as well as tempo and voice that build with the chorus make this song fun yet still impresses.
The title track is also the last, and is Black's self-affirmed favorite off the album. Slow building and playful, Black details a relationship that is so good, both parties have to realize what they have and refuse to let it go. "I have such discipline, only think of you five times an hour...so won't you hold onto this with me/won't ya hold onto this/ don't think you realize how great this is" and "We both grew up thinking that love just can't last/that don't mean we can't both give it a damn good try" emphasize Black's romantic, personable writing style that almost anyone who has ever been in a relationship can relate to.
Black holds her own in the South Sound with a strength of songwriting, voice and stage presence that retains its original intent. Though she rings familiar to other prominent female vocalists on the music scene today, her thoughtful yet playful songs and rocking voice make her worthy enough to stand up with the rest of them.
Alyse Black plays Jazzbones on Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. and also plays the Stonegate New Year's Eve bash at 8 p.m. For more information, visit her website at www.alyseblack.com, Myspace at www.myspace.com/alyseblack or find her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alyseblack.