Powerful and emotive vocals allied to razor sharp songwriting.
In true ‘Sliding Doors’ tradition it is always fascinating to reflect upon a moment in a musician’s life that helped nudge them in the direction of a musical career. In the case of Southern Oregon based Alice DiMicele it was the gift as a 12-year-old of the Stevie Wonder classic ‘Songs in The Key of Life’. Already by this time firmly entrenched within the school choir the gift of the album prompted DiMicele to learn every lyric, every note and every nuance through constant repeated plays. Picking up her first guitar at the age of seventeen, and, after initially playing coffee houses in upstate New York and New Jersey, DiMicele relocated to her current Oregon base and embarked on a musical career that spans 35 years and has led to the release of her sixteenth album ‘Every Seed We Plant’. Opening track ‘For Granted’ sees the singer reaching some seriously high notes on a big, bold, bluesy number that is enhanced by the organ of Skip Edwards who brings a gospel undertone to the piece. Contrast that with the serious and mournful ‘Alone’, a song that tackles the dark clouds that hang over the clinically depressed. With a pared back acoustic accompaniment and the mournful cello of Barry Phillips, DiMicele’s vocals are no less prominent for the gentler and emotional feeling she brings to the song.
These two tracks alone help demonstrate the fact that here is an artist with a voice that sits comfortably wherever DiMicele’s songwriting cares to lead her. Drawing on folk, blues, R&B, jazz and rock and roll influences the album’s songs have shifts in tone that reflect the subject matter. For each song that covers grief, loss or vulnerability there is a counterweight in the form of the bouncy joy and optimism of tracks such as ‘Free’ and ‘Sunrise’ or ‘Jersey’, a defiant shout out of pride in the area in which she grew up.
A song that demands to be heard is ‘Dispatch’, a track that addresses the true-life slaying of 68-year-old African American Kenneth Chamberlain in 2011 at the hands of the police. The song includes actual recordings of the conversation between Chamberlain and the dispatch operator and is an emotional and unfortunately depressingly familiar tale of our times. Delving deeper into the background of the case online just serves to add to the emotions attached to the song. DiMicele narrates as the dispatcher, and it almost goes without saying that she attaches a power and respect that the sorry tale warrants.
Whatever the approach or subject matter across ‘Every Seed We Plant’ the constant is a voice that is, always, a powerful and memorable tool in the manner of a Bonnie Raitt or a Wynonna. It is a fine thing indeed.