Alison Crockett - Bare (2007)

Alison Crockett
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With titles like "Since You've Been Gone," and "How Deep is Your Love," one could be forgiven for thinking Alison Crockett's latest CD Bare is a cover album.

In reality, Crockett wrote 10 of the record's 12 tunes, and neither of the two songs mentioned above are remakes. One of the remakes, however, illustrates Crockett's strength as a singer of ballads in all of their variety. Crockett provides an interesting take on Sade's "Love is Stronger than Pride," by performing it as an up-tempo a cappella song. In doing so, Crockett transforms "Love is Stronger than Pride" from a torch song into an anthem of self-affirmation and independence.

With titles like "Since You've Been Gone," and "How Deep is Your Love," one could be forgiven for thinking Alison Crockett's latest CD Bare is a cover album.

In reality, Crockett wrote 10 of the record's 12 tunes, and neither of the two songs mentioned above are remakes. One of the remakes, however, illustrates Crockett's strength as a singer of ballads in all of their variety. Crockett provides an interesting take on Sade's "Love is Stronger than Pride," by performing it as an up-tempo a cappella song. In doing so, Crockett transforms "Love is Stronger than Pride" from a torch song into an anthem of self-affirmation and independence.

Crockett uses her own compositions as a showcase for her abilities as a torch singer on tunes such as the aforementioned "Since You've Been Gone" and "Anything." "Since You've Been Gone" is an a cappella number that draws on blues, doo wop and funk, amply displaying Crockett's abilities as an arranger. She employs the doo wop tactic of using vocals to replicate musical instruments - particularly the bass. The lyrics prove that this lady knows a little bit about the blues, and knows how to carry a torch. "Since you've been gone," Crockett sings in the chorus, "I am all alone/Everything is wrong/cuz ain't nobody home/You've been gone too long, and I just can't move on."

"Anything" is more of a traditional torch song in which the desire and longing hang thick on each word. "Anything you want/I'll do that for you," Crockett sings in a voice that sounds like a plaintive cry for her lover to stay. "Anything you say you need/I'll do that too/Just say that you'll come home/I won't be left alone/Cuz I don't know what I'll do without you."

Torch songs have a reputation for being needy, because - well, they are. Everybody needs love, but nobody wants to be seen as vulnerable. That's the age-old battle between heart and head, emotion and logic, and we all know that the hard voice of reason usually gets the short end of the stick. We can't help it; we're wired that way. And when things go wrong, as they sometimes do, we find ourselves still reflexively scratching that itch. That's the territory mined by the torch singer, and people like Crockett will always find the shaft flush with nuggets as long as there's such a thing as unrequited love.

Fortunately, Crockett is also adept at being the assertive lover, as she demonstrates on the gem "How Deep is Your Love." She gives the song a conversational tone, beginning the song by telling her lover "we need to talk." I can just envision her delivering that line while taking the remote from her lover's hand and standing in front of the TV while he tries to watch the football game. The song's title asks a question, and the track follows that format with Crockett asking her lover a series of questions. "Is your love only charm/Never real and always false/Is your love like a child/You don't get your way and you cry out loud/Is your love open arms that squeeze too tight and then cause harm/Is your love heaven or hell/Or are you aware enough to tell."

Crockett also delivers two strong bedroom ballads, with "Everytime I'm With You" being a standout. She uses metaphor to describe how her lover makes her feel spiritually and emotionally. Bare is at its best when Crockett plumbs the depths and range of the affairs of the heart. She truly strips the subject of romantic love bare and places it under a microscope. Alison address other subjects on Bare, and although those songs are solid - including a remake of "Isn't She Lovely" that features Crockett's piano playing - none of those songs are as memorable as the love songs. Bare is CD that can be played when entertaining a few friends, but it's ideal on those quiet evening for two.

By Howard Dukes

 
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