A Fine Frenzy - One Cell In The Sea

Kate Goranka Whittaker 28/06/2008

Rating: 3.5/5

Singer songwriter Alison Sudol, aka A Fine Frenzy, looks like a model/actress, especially on the sleeve of her debut, 'One Cell in The Sea' - in fact she comes across a lot like alluring Joanie from Mad Men with her fiery red hair, porcelain skin and full, vulnerable features - not to mention the immaculate retro fashion she's sporting all over the CD booklet (hang on, it IS Joanie from Mad Men!).

There's something about an averted gaze that can excite interest more than a direct stare, it's frustrating really - so this element of the cover combined with a princess prettiness, piqued my curiosity and made me want to listen. Already Sudol has a fan in Rufus Wainwright, and though this is a grower of an album, I can understand why he picked her to open his tour last year.

The songs are well crafted stories of love and disappointment, lust and longing (aah, my favourite themes!). Sudol's voice is plaintive and expressive, sounding cool and warm at the same time (a feat also managed by Karen Carpenter). Pretty melodies complimented by subtle orchestrations abound, particularly on gems such as 'Almost Lover' - with its sad refrain "Goodbye my almost lover... should have known you'd bring me heartache, almost lovers always do". Indeed, Sudol has a simple but canny way with a lyric; "sick and tired of this mad desire fluttering inside me like a hawk", on 'Liar Liar.' There is an element of pre-raphaelite heroine about this anglophile girl - if anything, the production distracts from the stories she's telling, and I think she would probably seem stronger just by herself at a piano, playing live with her voice and lyrics at the forefront. Having said that, "You Picked Me" is swooningly romantic and an instant highlight. Sudol hints at greater depths and certainly seems to have something literary and unique about her, which if true should allow her to rise like cream above the glut of mediocre singer-songwriters that are always appearing. She may well be one to watch!

She's appeared in CSI: New York, fact fans! I haven't seen the episode in question, but I can't say it sounds much cop: "playing a musician named Nova Kent. The team must protect Nova from a vigilante that wants to see her dead... In the episode, she will also be performing two songs from her debut album..." Riiiiiighht. Sounds like a promo spot to me. I checked it out on Youtube, and it looks as ridiculous as it sounds, but credit to her MUSICAL talents - the bits where she's playing are good. It's all the guff that surrounds it that's a little offputting. My advice is to just stick with the album and don't look at Youtube until you've made up your mind about A Fine Frenzy.

She also has a very nice website: - as long as you don't mind fluttery-mad little dragonflies hovering around your cursor.