Kelsey Blackstone – Alice

We were bowled over when we first heard Kelsey Blackstone. We were introduced to her by way of her previous single, Lay You Down. She’s back with a new release – Alice – and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed having Kelsey in our ears again here at the Send Me Your Ears studio.

Alice is a song about finding your way back home. Starting on some gorgeous acoustic guitar stabs with a great rhythm and nature sounds in the background to set the mood, Alice is a warm and heartfelt performance.

Plenty of instrumentation fills the song out and we love the almost Cuban style rhythm that creeps in as the song develops. After each chorus, there’s a great little section of super groovy piano and gorgeous latin American percussion. We particularly like the off ride work in these sections. This is yet another winner for us from this sublimely talented Boston singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. The incidental percussion really does make this track thoroughly exciting.

A brief, Santana feeling guitar solo towards the end leads into a breakdown with gentle acoustic guitar, organs and just a hint of slide guitar.

Once again though, despite some superb musicianship, it is the vocals that steal the show for us in Blackstone’s music. Alice is more of a groovy track than the slow and heartfelt Lay You Down but the quality shining through is still very evident.

There’s a slightly improvised feel to the vocals in Alice. Vocal gymnastic moments reminiscent of Mariah Carey fill the choruses whilst the verses have a groovy Nelly Furtado feel. As with her previous track, we were reminded again of the effortlessness in the vocals that Eva Cassidy displayed. There’s a real Gwen Stefani moment at 2m35s and Edie Brickell qualities are present throughout the song. With very little need for processing on her vocals, Kelsey Blackstone really does have something rather special.

The bass work is superb here too. A real acid jazz feel. We’d suggest a shelf boost of the first 3 octaves to add some extra warmth and to accentuate the bass playing a little more. A tiny cut around 700 and a tiny boost around 3kHz for a little extra edge. We’d also suggest trying to push an extra 2 or 3 decibels against the limiter for some extra thickness and possibly just a touch more stereo – even just messing with the settings on a generic stereo plugin should make a difference here.

We really are astounded by Kelsey Blackstone. Effortless vocals and sublime musicianship, she is fast becoming one of our favourites. We hope to hear much more from this talented goosebump-inducing artist.

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