Back in late-August of 2012, Alice Smith launched a Kickstarter campaign . She was hoping the benevolence of her fans would help her raise about $15,000 so she could independently release SHE, what would be a follow-up to her profound debut of 2006. For Lovers, Dreamers and Me was a bit of a revelation, with Smith strutting out once-in-a-generation pipes. The woman could sang. That album brought acclaim, a Grammy nod and a major label contract with Epic Records. But, like with so many other deeply personal artists of her ilk, Smith’s relationship with Epic fell apart and actual released music never came to fruition.
Smith dropped SHE last month and it’s an album of considerable merit. It’s home to songs that often reach an almost sonic magnificence. You will not listen to an album with a better collective vocal performance all year. I’m mostly sure of this, because it’s quite possible that Smith can out-sing every artist dabbling in popular music and its offshoots. But it’s also an album of great emotional depth with content and concepts that run the love-gamut.
Earlier this year, Shadow member Keith Murphy asked, When Did Black Folks Stop Sangin’? It was, in part, a sobering look at how black singing artists have deserted their roots as they pander to the EDM glow-stick crowd. Well, Smith is still sangin’. Are you listening?