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Alison Faith Levy


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Alternative pop singer/songwriter

Status:

Most recent album, World of Wonder (children's, 2012); most recent regular release, My World View (2000)

See also:

Alison Faith Levy's site

Alison Faith Levy's MySpace page

Magnetic Records (link through artists to their Alison Faith Levy info

The Ectophiles' Guide entry for the Loud Family

Comparisons:

Veda Hille, Mark Eitzel, Chrissie Hynde. (tugboat@channel1.com)

Her voice and piano style sound a little to me like Mary Lydia Ryan. (Neile)

Something in her reminds me a little of Laura Nyro. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Alison was associated with the avant-garde band It in the 1980s, and is presently serving as the keyboardist in the Loud Family. She fronts another band, called Chore, and has played music for silent films in her native San Francisco.
     Her voice has an appealingly strong quality about it that reminds me of Veda Hille, if Veda were more influenced by Dusty Springfield than Janis Ian. The persona her music suggests isn't afraid to be vulnerable but is nobody's doormat, resting her approach nicely between Mark Eitzel and Chrissie Hynde. (tugboat@channel1.com)

Alison was in the Loud Family and plays keyboards. She was a somewhat wild presence when I saw the band, but was surprised at how stately and beautiful her solo album is. (neal)

Comments about live performance:

If you like girl-with-her-piano type music, Alison Faith Levy is always worth seeing. (trow@interbridge.com)

Recommended first album:

The Scientist/Execution Day 7" and The Fog Show

Recordings:


Grumbelina EP

Release info:

1994—Piece of Mind

Availability:

Wide in the SF Bay area, and at online (Amazon.com) and U.S. retailers that carry indie releases

Ecto priority:

Medium

Group members:

Alison Faith Levy—voice, piano

Guest artists:

Chris Xefos—bass, organ, backing vocals
David Immergluck—guitar
David Shamrock—drums
John Moremen—drums, horn arrangement
The Zircus Horns—horns
David Samuels—acoustic guitar

Produced by:

Chris Xefos

Comments:

As good a debut as any. "Closet Case" is a nicely careening rock song, and the ballads aren't too shabby. A sense of the psychedelic pervades most of the album. The record isn't entirely successful, but suggests at greatness to come. (tugboat@channel1.com)

Scientist/Execution Day 7"

Release info:

Strange Little Girl

Availability:

Mail order. $3 to Peeling Eyeball Productions, P.O. Box 460472, San Francisco, CA 94146, U.S.A.

Ecto priority:

High

Comments:

Ah, this is more like it. The A-side, "Scientist", is a rocking three-minute pop song that wouldn't sound out of place on a good children's record, with a bouncy piano melody and Alison's irrepressible vocal over it all. "Execution Day", the flip, could best be described as a three-minute School House Rock-opera version of Welcome To The Dollhouse. I like Alison Faith Levy's vision of piano-centric pop/rock as executed on this 7", which blends the introspection of traditional singer/songwriters with a full band dynamic and some jaunty arrangements. (tugboat@channel1.com)

The Fog Show

Release info:

1998—Magnetic

Availability:

Through better indie stores or by Magnetic's mail order

Ecto priority:

Recommended, especially to fans of the beautiful and fierce

Comments:

Alison Faith Levy's full-length isn't as avant-garde as her association with the Shimmy Disc-associated It and Scott Miller's smart popsters the Loud Family would have you believe, nor is it as rocking as her previous output might suggest. Instead, The Fog Show is a collection of well-executed piano ballads, on which she collaborated with one other musician per song. I don't have a lyric sheet so I can't say whether or not this is a concept album for sure, but there seems to be some sort of continuity between the songs, and the cinematic feel would certainly suggest such an animal. Through it all, the character Alison sings about comes off as being lonely and heartbroken, but has enough of a survival instinct to stand up to what's going on around her. Musically, this is a great showcase for her supple piano playing—aside from her accompaniment, several instrumentals dot the album, including the smoky jazz of "Antigone" and "Yellow Ticket"'s kletzmer-inflected journey. (tugboat@channel1.com)

This album is stately and beautiful. Many songs are long and complex, clocking in at 6 to 8 minutes, and contain some very nice touches—a bit of cello, some trumpet, all paired with Alison's piano playing. It's kind of nice to hear subdued piano playing for a change. Nothing rollicking like (Tori Amos or Veda Hille). Some lovely instrumental opening and closing numbers. The songs haven't really sunk in yet, but they definitely merit more attention. The vibe reminds me somewhat of Caroline Lavelle's album, or how I think I remember her album, having not listened to it much or recently. I picked it up at a Loud Family show last year. She was playing keyboards and doing back-up vocals with them, and I loved her exuberance and edge. So I was rather surprised when I listened to The Fog Show and didn't hear any of that. Instead, there are stately, piano-heavy songs that I love too, for entirely different reasons. I didn't see any Tori connection besides the obvious (female, piano). (neal)

A disc deserving of far more notice than it has received thus far. Mellow, melancholy, melodic, with strong vocals and great flowing songwriting. Lovely. (Neile)

Alison indeed reminded me in a way of Tori Amos just because of *that piano* yes. You see, as we don't particularly stumble on too many female singer-songwriters with just piano—a combination I am very fond of—here in the Netherlands. I was pleasantly surprised by her piano playing and was promptly inclined to mention Tori Amos as she's the only other artist of that rare species I knew of. Anyway, I do not want to misguide any Tori fans; on further listening I even think especially the instrumental parts remind me in fact more of the soundtrack of the movie The Piano, with this beautiful music by Michael Nyman. (mb.taris@wxs.nl)


My World View

Release info:

2000—Magnetic—MAG 0014

Availability:

Through better indie stores or by Magnetic's mail order

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Alison Faith Levy—synth strings, drums, tambourine, jingle bells, buzzy red Wurlitzer, piano, vocals

Guest artists:

Chris Xefos—tuba, pianosaurus, organ, bass, Juno 60, upright bass, accordion
Patrick Goodwin—guitar
Victor Krummenacher—baritone guitar, bass, harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
John Moremen—drums, guitar
Jonathan Segel—string quartet arrangement, viola, 2nd violin, violin, sound effects, mandolin
Sheila Schat—1st violin, cello
Gil Ray—drums
David Immerglück—guitar
Danny Cao—trumpet, baritone horn

Produced by:

Chris Xefos

Comments:

Again the focus is on Alison Faith Levy's strong voice and piano, and way with a melancholy song—though there are a couple more pop-flavoured ones than on the previous album. Again there is a lot of nice, understated but strong piano work. Recommended. (Neile)


Thanks to Chelsea for work on this entry.

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