Alison Turner, aka Ali T, has produced a powerful recording and statement about life in her second album “Smoke & Mirrors.” Based in Royalton, this singer-songwriter finds her voice in real-life issues, revealing a thoughtful, politically astute performer who can attack current issues without trivializing them.
While the album is just eight tracks and 30 minutes long, Turner packs it with themes that resonate for today’s music audience that, while directed at her compatriots in the 20- to 30-year-old generation, resonates with older listeners.
Turner is a good rhythm guitarist, and her chords and strumming patterns propel the music along with a generally danceable beat. Her voice is smooth and in tune, and shows a good dynamic range. The album oozes confidence and a sense of sophisticated understanding of the issues she describes in her songs. What this reviewer appreciated especially was the lack of maudlin love/love lost material that is often prevalent in singers from this generation.
A songwriter with strong points of view on mass murder, and women stuck in marriages that aren’t fulfilling, deserves to be listened to.
The album opens with “Smoking Gun,” a song right out of today’s news and the all-too-frequent mass murders plaguing American society. Turner goes so far as to add a bit of sound bite from a JFK speech delivered over 50 years ago, where he “calls for thoughtful change,” adding that “we all want more.” Mass murder is a touchy subject to be singing about, but Turner’s approach is empathetic.
On track two, “Playing House,” we find a woman who should be happy with her life but instead finds a joyless existence. She has, as so many women have, sublimated her life’s desires to her family. As Turner writes, “This is the life I was born to, but I find myself wanting more.” Later on the lyric is, “She is feeling so undone and prays she’s the only one.” I was reminded of the Stones’ smash hit from the 1960s, “Satisfaction,” where women in a similar place take drugs to squelch the pain. Turner’s characters don’t.
The reggae beat of track three’s “Paradise Reality” doesn’t sweeten the question Turner asks, if “this is my life my paradise reality?” “Electric Haze” explores the loss of youth that many go through on the way to maturity.
“Bitter Bitch” discusses how artists try to stay true to artistic goals, and how they fight to keep their personal style, refusing to change to achieve popular success and avoid being compared to other female artists. Track six, “Spin,” explores finding one’s place. She says the answer is to “be yourself, that’s love.” As she reminds us, “The world spins and never stops.”
“Cliché” also looks at an artist striving to achieve her hopes and dreams and, “with any luck I’ll be headed to the stars.” The final track, “Magic (Wreaking Havoc),” continues the exploration of the loss of youth, loss of personality, change of style, and staying true to beliefs and musical goals.
”Smoke & Mirrors” was released to the public Oct. 4. You can find out more about Ali T online at www.sheisalit.com.