Aileen Alonzo

Live Review from Girls with Guitars #3

U_Girl3_007.jpgSetlist:

1. Alice

2. Car Crash

3. Icarus

4. 8 a.m.

5. Gossamer

6. Bia

‘Twas another night on which the mantle of entertaining the assemblage rested on the fretboards of some of the best gals on the circuit. Naturally, things were expected to get a little heated though the night; and this did happen in more ways than one (some being more savoury than others). In the role of the firestarter was the lone figure of Aileen, with her very stripped-down alt-acoustic style. On the night in question, she had a beautiful black (borrowed) guitar which, when combined with her all-black outfit, gave her a visual mystique. Her songs are deceptively innocent – cleverly formulated to sound innocent, but having a seriously messed up quality if you listen closely. The acoustic veil tends to remain basic – some songs even consist predominantly of one chord – and this is offset by the dense lyrics. As one may have come to expect from her work in Dark Himaya, the songs are peppered with pop culture and literary references; there is something of a Wildean quality to them too. A unique feature of her writing is that the lines are short enough to have a deliberately un-flowing, even stark feel to them and one definitely gets the feeling that the images being conveyed are deeply personal. The guitar fills in these images in primary colours, and this creates a definite intrigue to her music.

Alice began somewhat tentatively, but moved on into its wall of guitars as the topics of rabbit holes and looking glasses were raised. This construct of using the guitar as a scaffold to wrap her (considerable) vocal talents around works quite well, as songs like Icarus have moments of deep intensity into which a listener can really immerse themselves. Car Crash was a particular highlight – a relatively unemotional description of what should be a horrific event, the relaxed feel of its chord progression allows you to gauge its impact rather than force it on you. Despite being very much in the mould of female-singer-songwriter, her songs tend to sound more like a band going unplugged, which is exactly what was happening in Bia – the nature of the song is pleasantly different without the full-band backing, yet retains its moodiness. Her set, however, did suffer by sometimes having too much of the ‘90s-teen-show’ *cough*Dawson’sCreek*cough* sound, as on Gossamer. Some songs also require her to sing beyond her range, and her voice gets considerably thinner towards the higher side. This takes away from the delivery, and must be guarded against. Still, these are early days yet, and aside from a few missteps, it was a strong performance with which to open the show. It’s always difficult to be a lone person playing to a large room, and she managed to win and hold peoples’ attention, so mission accompolished I’d say.

– Shashwati

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    Performances by Aileen Alonzo: