Soul, perhaps more than any other genre, has been associated, perhaps unfairly, with the word ‘diva.’
I’m sure it’s just one of those things which once mentioned just became a journalistic “go to” phrase…you know what music writers can be like! What is so great about the introductory track on Art is that it sees Alyza happily sending up the idea in a tongue-in-cheek telephone message. And once you hear it, you can’t help but automatically be drawn to her side, seduced by the self-deprecation and humour with which she greets you. That’s what you call owning it. But I digress.
Art is a celebration of all things soul, jazz and funk, a heady and ever-changing mix of the three but generally with the latter upfront and centre, and why not, we all know that groove is king. And although the album tips its sonic hat – probably a natty fedora worn at a jaunty angle – to the traditional sounds of the past, it is nothing if not vested in where those sounds are going rather than were they come from. Lyrically too it speaks with a modern tongue, exploring relationships, mental health, true romance and false suitors and often does so in fairly stark language, it is nothing if not relatable to the modern audience.
Get In Line and the honestly titled Fuckboy Blues are sweet and funky gems which put the power in the girl’s hands for a change, reminding those players, predators and poseurs that she is too smart to fall for their silly games. Don’t Ya is a modern take on Aretha’s bluesy bravado and sassy swagger and Free Me is a gentle jazz-infused ballad but one smart enough to rise above all that such a term normally implies.
It’s a cool album, just not great. Better than smart. Unquestionably classy. Certainly tasteful. Cool in the best sense of the word. Some people act cool. Some may even manage to attain a certain level of cool. A select few, special people have it in their DNA. Alyza is definitely one of those people.
Released Nov 6 2020
Art is a celebration of all things soul, jazz and funk. Unquestionably classy. Certainly tasteful.