When you listen to a lot of new music it can take a lot to impress: the production needs to be just right, the music tight, the lyrics smart or relatable, and the vocals spot on. At least that’s the case for me. A Fine Frenzy’s album One Cell in the Sea is one such album that immediately caught my attention, as Alison Sudol’s powerful vocals struck the right chord with me and I was instantly hooked.
Alison Sudol carries the songs on her debut with dignity, grace, and pure talent. The camouflaged backing band definitely takes a back seat to Sudol’s voice, making me believe that she could easily uphold a solo career. One Cell in the Sea is a cross section of Sudol’s grand imagination filtered through her fantasy-engaging lyrics. Signed to Virgin records for this project, A Fine Frenzy is joined by a talented staff of directors and producers including David Campbell and Hal Cragin (whose Rufus Wainwright influence can be heard throughout the record).
The only downside to this album is that many of the tracks can be confused for each other. Few of them truly rise above the continuous M.O.R. flow on this 14-track album and by the time I reached track 10, my interest had begun to fade. And yet I found myself strangely attracted to the imaginary places where I had arrived, following its musical muse. Perusing through this album I was halted by what turns out to be the album’s first single, “Almost Lover.” With its sweet and solemn melody, I felt as though I’ve heard this song before, but then realized it was, in fact, a new song to my ears. It was merely the song my heart had been singing for most of my life. This single, along with other takes from the album make One Cell in the Sea an album very deeply and personally affecting, despite its extreme poetic and natural undertones.
Drawing influences from artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Keane to writers including C.S. Lewis, Sudol composed a very autobiographical tale of her beloved life’s memories. A Fine Frenzy’s debut album is both melodic and very real, not only reading from one girl’s pages, but unfolding story to which everyone can stop and say, “Wow, I’ve been through that. How did they know?” or better yet, “I thought I was the only one…”