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ALA.NI - You and I (No Format!)

Star rating: 
5

After ALA.NI's brief performance on Later with Jools Holland last year, anticipation for the London-born vocalist's debut album has had time to grow into something hardly bearable. No wonder, when this stunning young artist's voice sits comfortably amongst those of Billie Holiday, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Allison Russell, whilst retaining its own gentle flavour.

YOU AND I does more than enough to satisfy those for whom the wait has seemed like an epoch. Indeed, there are moments when one feels a little spoiled. Take, for instance, the understated magic of Suddenly, a track that would have been enough of a treat, even without the delicious choir of harmonies that, like many of the songs here, preserves the track in its own exquisite amber.

Similarly, Roses & Wine has all the spare and simple beauty of a thirties Billie Holiday cut but blossoms into something that would fit nicely on any Kate and Anna McGarrigle release. And it's within this territory, perhaps, where the album will find its most loyal followers. There'll be many a music mag licking and sticking the "Jazz" decals on YOU AND I, but this powerfully sweet record succeeds in transcending labels, focusing instead on the delicate delivery of, above anything else, the love song.

Liam Wilkinson
Northern Sky