In tone and in melody, Alejandra O’Leary clearly has both a voice and an ear for pop music.
But then the Champions Of The West come into the picture and the arrangements of Heartspace Timepiece become more a mosaic of distinctive sensibilities, from a bit of twangy Americana curling around her soft, breathy vocals to the occasional throwback orchestral waltz being ratcheted-up with some churning rock-inclined guitar riffs. It’s a blend, a musical mix, a harmony of instruments, voice and genre.
Take the twilight-folk strum of “Skin To Skin,” a traipsing song to heal a beautiful wound, warbled with pedal-steel under the misty combo of synthesized-strings and chiming pianos and it’s a world-away from the comparably aggressive “Take Me Down,” rollicked with guitars and jammed forward by driving percussion under frank lyrics spat out in more of a garage-rock defiance (that, ever leaning towards that pop-aesthetic, still get subtly sweetened by softly “ooohing” harmonies underneath). In fact, “Take Me Down” also demonstrates O’Leary’s keenness to keep her ensemble (Jamie Church, Jeremy Frey, Martin Maginity and Jimmy Sindelar) up into the spotlight, with equal shine on their talents as much as upon her voice and pop-songwriting sensibility. I have to go to “New Low” as a standout, where I’m not sure if I’m hearing the beginnings of an 80’s pop ballad (with that woozy, wispy, yet declarative delivery of a Cyndi Lauper shining through), or some late 60’s Americana-throwback or perhaps a neo-alt-country spin as those dashing guitars twang in higher timbres that scintillate like the setting orange sun of some new summertime road trip ballad.
Give “Beat Ohio” a listen, though… Opening up like a slow creaky screen door with those acoustic guitars and fluttering pianos and there’s her voice, casting off the whispery tones of some of the softer tracks and taking off into a full throated soar that fills a room over a toe-tapping beat. And, as the lyric goes, “Hey, now…” upon reaching that second chorus, you realize that the charm of the Champions Of The West, throughout Heartspace Timepiece will consistently be, track to track, their careful crafting of those subtle harmonies.
Heartspace Timepiece debuts on August 26 – Sample single “Beat Ohio”