Exceptional voice lost in monotonous songs

book With her first release “32 Flavors,” Alana Davis sounded like a Fiona Apple wanna-be. But her album Blame It On Me (Elektra) proves Davis has a more eclectic sound.

Blame It On Me covers a variety of music genres. The daughter of a noted jazz pianist, Davis incorporates her father’s style into her own work. “Love & Pride” and “Murder” have a hint of jazz and blues, making it easy for listeners to imagine Davis singing it propped on a stool in a smoky club.

Featuring an acoustic guitar, “Crazy” retains a folk music quality. With upbeat rhythm, the folk ditties add an entertaining facet to the album. Other songs, like “One Day,” imitate Top 40 hits, with no exceptional rhythms or sounds to make them unique.

A slow ballad, “Lullabye” allows Davis to showcase her wide range of vocal abilities. Her voice soars to high notes, taking on a sweet quality, then plummets back to her characteristic deep, sultry sound.

Davis played a part in writing all songs on the album, except “32 Flavors.” This first release is a remake of a song originally written and performed by Ani DiFranco. The album’s lyrics range from simplistic to contemplative to inane. “Turtle” contains the most imaginative and expressive lyrics: “Little boy wishes he wasn’t small/ He’d give his turtle to be six feet tall.”

Despite the various types of music and clever lyrics, Blame It On Me leaves the listener bored. The songs are too long, each averaging five to six minutes. Without an exceptional rhythm or surprising changes in pace, the songs drag on, forcing the listener to constantly to skip ahead to the next track.

The faults of the album are not a reflection of Davis’ vocal talent. Her voice resonates with a raspy, twangy sound which gives her potential to separate herself from the masses. She sings with passion, sounding as if she feels spiritually connected to her work.

One of the most memorable songs, “Weight of the World” contains an entertaining rhythm and highlights the softer aspects of Davis’ voice. Yet many of the other tracks lack notable elements, and the songs overlap in the listener’s mind.

Most of the songs would succeed as singles, but they do not combine to create an interesting album. Although Davis is talented, her unique voice is not enough to salvage the album from monotony. Without the pizzazz and zest a debut album needs to succeed, Blame It On Me fades into the background, pulling Davis with it.

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