Alyssa Graham is difficult to classify. She wears her two main hats—jazz vocalist and folk-twinged singer-songwriter—with incredible ease; it’s no surprise that her 2005 debut featured covers of both George Gershwin and Neil Young. Her version of “Izaura” (made famous by Joao Gilberto) is effortless, but so is her version of Paul Simon’s “America”. Given this background, what could listeners expect from her latest LP, Lock, Stock, & Soul?
As it turns out, the album is a perfect middle ground. Unlike What Love Is or 2008’s Echo, there are no covers among its twelve tracks—just soft, sophisticated songs falling somewhere between acoustic alt-country and jazz. Graham’s own songwriting is just as inspired as those early covers: the delicate “I’ll Stay With You” incorporates bossa nova-esque guitar, while “He’s a Lover” is quiet country-blues (complete withsteel guitar). The album is subtle, but certainly diverse.
Lock, Stock, & Soul truly shines when Graham does bare her soul. Opener “’Til My Heart Quakes” is a perfect mission statement, expansive and genuine; the title track is softer but just as sincere. Though there are a few moments of forced lightness, most of the LP feels like it fell directly out of Alyssa Graham’s own heart. It’s honest and intimate, full of stylistic intricacies that are a joy to explore. Grab a glass of wine, light some candles and spend an evening doing just that. You won’t regret it.