Alice Howe “Visions” (Independent, 2019)

Boston, MA native Alice Howe releases her first full-length album and there’s no doubt it will propel her right onto roots music lovers’ radars. Hard driving blues, modern folk or country ballads, Howe does it all with refinement and a velvety soprano voice. ‘Visions’ includes a collection of classic songs from blues and folk greats (namely, Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke and Taj Mahal), as well as Howe’s own finely ornamented creations.

The ten songs were recorded by top of the heap west coast musicians, headlining bassist Freebo (Bonnie Raitt, Crosby Still & Nash, Dr John etc.) as the big kahuna. As a result, ‘Visions’ is a very electric and produced piece of music, featuring thick layers of Hammond organ, buttery smooth guitar solos and honey dripping horn fills, departing from Howe’s usual framework of solo acoustic guitar. The tracklist still leaves some space for the more stripped-down stuff (‘What We Got Is Gold, You Just Never Know’), Those few tracks really highlight Howe’s seamless vocals and witty songwriting, and certainly make the listener asking for more.

A perfectly calibrated record
7/10

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