For Lovers, Dreamers and Me | BBE
Res flopped. Fifi Dobson disappeared. So the new frontrunner for the annual Tracy Chapman Memorial Rock Chanteuse Award is 28-year-old Brooklynite Alice Smith. The buppie Revolution may have abandoned Brooklyn for greener pastures uptown, but that doesn’t stop Smith from harvesting the crop that Cody ChesnuTT planted in 2002 with the homemade blues funk of The Headphone Masterpiece. She even opened for him at Brooklyn’s Southpaw in January. Her debut release on BBE struggles with splitting the difference between rockist guitars and R&B grooves — something Chapman solved by taking the folk-pop dive. If it’s too soulful, it’s too black; if it’s too rock, it’s too white. And there’s always the risk of alienating listeners from both sides of the divide. Smith walks the line well, cabaret-kicking-and-moaning desperately over arresting horns on “Desert Song” and purring as sweetly as India.Arie on “Dream” and “Know That I. . . . ” “Woodstock” doesn’t deliver that magical Chapman formula its folk-pop title suggests, but For Lovers is at least a bright spark for those who lost faith when ChesnuTT’s career didn’t take off.
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