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A Fine Frenzy - One Cell In The Sea

Released on Virgin Records, 7/17/2007

A red haired, piercingly green eyed siren helms the band known as A Fine Frenzy. Allison Sudol is said siren. Strikingly beautiful, she’d make just about anyone swoon with a brief fleeting gaze. Fortunately, Sudol is not a one trick pony. Her vertigo inducing appearance is matched by powerful pipes and a poignant musical sensibility that just may elevate Allison and the rest of her fine frenzy into public consciousness.

One Cell In The Sea is an auspicious debut filled with tracks that move, engage, and haunt. "Almost Lover" is one such track that just about breaks your heart from the get go with the somber wailings of a piano only to be followed by 22-year old Allison mourning an "almost lover" who provided only a brief, fleeting taste of love only to have it dashed. Sudol reflects painfully on the seemingly inescapable pain of love unrequited. "Almost Lover" hurts in a way that is familiar to just about anyone.

The melancholy continues in the aptly titled "Hope for the Hopeless". This one could likely become an anthem for anyone who’s had life crap on them. In other words, there’s hope for all of us. Allison’s powerful vocals complement lyrics that are moving and memorable: "...running against the wind, playing the cards you get, something is bound to give." For those who have had a rough go of things, "Hope for the Hopeles".

Not all is sturm und drang with A Fine Frenzy. In "You Picked Me" Allison gives voice to sheer bliss and ecstasy at surprisingly enough "getting picked" and having someone special in her life. "...The two of us a perfect fit, you’re mine all mine, and all I can say is you blow me away." Okay, it's not necessarily the most lyrically complex ode to love, but, it’s refreshing to see at age 22 Allison is not completely jaded.

The remainder of One Cell In The Sea is a mélange of mostly melancholy musings on love, relationships, and everything that lies in between (oftentimes hurt and confusion is a part of it). There’s an uncanny maturity to the majority of the tracks in A Fine Frenzy’s debut and a decided lack of syrupy saccharine given the thrust of the album. It’s refreshing to see a young female artist not position herself as a nascent pop princess (a la Britney, Cristina, Avril).

One could characterize A Fine Frenzy (aka Allison Sudol) as a wonderful amalgamation of Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, and a litany of emo-bands (Keane, Aqualung, Pete Yorn, Ben Folds). Yet despite her similarities to the aforementioned artists, Allison’s got a sound that is authentic and distinct. One Cell In The Sea is a well executed debut from a young artist who has the potential to craft some even better music in the years that lie ahead.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars