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Allysen CalleryAllysen Callery
Album: Prince's Pine(EP)
Label: Reverb Worship
Tracks: 5

New year, new release, new label for Rhode Island singer-songwriter Allysen. She'd previously made quite an impression on my senses with her last release The Song The Songbird Sings at the beginning of this year, and she's just released, typically unobtrusively, another new collection of her "quiet music for a loud world", albeit a rather brief one.

Prince's Pine is titled after a small plant that grows quietly in the forests of North America, and according to Allysen you have to really look carefully to find it. An apt metaphor, then, for a quietly released EP that had sold its physical version out in the space of just a week (tho' it's still available on Bandcamp and Allysen is intending to craft a new handmade edition in time). It's exactly the record Allysen has been wanting to make, she tells us, and it was recorded in a greenhouse on the edge of the woods by Myles Baer of Black Hole Infinity Studios. Here and there, subliminal natural sounds (birdsong, very occasional frogs and crickets) might seep through, adding another dimension of ambience to Allysen's quiet, dark singing and lyrical, if primitive guitar playing. More than once I was reminded of the gentle style of Bridget St. John, especially on opening song First Among The Flowers with its rippling guitar traceries and crooning yet delicate vocal line that steers the rays of the sun through the garden. The intimate minor-key lilt of Dark Winged Sparrow mirrors the bittersweet shadowsoft sensuality of its depicted love now lost through death, while the more contemplative Prince Of The Morning is perhaps the most outgoing expression of introspection on the EP (if that's not the obvious contradiction it seems). Penultimate track When You Are Awakening, though functioning as an instrumental interlude in the overall scheme of things, is at three minutes one of the EP's longer tracks and as such perhaps mildly overstays its welcome even in that context. The final song They Killed My Crippled Prince With The Sea Glass Eyes, simply tells of a prince-cum-singer-and-writer-of-sad-songs whose own fate seems to mirror those of his characters. For after all, "there's only so many sad songs a man can sing before life takes another path and he is gone". As is often the case with Allysen's songs, the slight surface ripples of the musical settings but thinly conceal the undeniable dark undercurrents. Do take the time to make her acquaintance.

David Kidman