This week I listened to Swedish-born (bjorn?) singer Alexandra Salafranca’s recorded tracks and was caught by surprise in the diversity she shows not only in song styles but texture and range. The first time through my ears kept searching for a theme, or a commonality that linked these songs. It seemed to be a random smattering of songs thrown together as if to make up a “sampler” album. I admit I was initially quite critical of the project as a whole, but upon further review, I realized the diversity really is the theme. Each one of these songs stands on its own merit, and each is a solid stand-alone play.
Salafranca has a style that’s hard to peg, but it lies somewhere on the “Bjork-meets-Sara McLachlan-and-takes-her-to-a-Tori Amos-show” section of the spectrum. But, in fairness, that doesn’t sum her up entirely. Not at all…
While Alexandra displays a distinct ‘crooner’ style, it is obvious she can step up to the plate and bring the Rock strong with songs like “Freak Out”. Frankly, I am reminded of one of my favorite female vocalists Louise Wener of the 90′s Brit-pop band Sleeper, specifically from their 1996 album The It Girl.
Artists such as this must be a nightmare for promoters, because there really isn’t a genre she fits firmly in – and frankly, I think this will play to her advantage. There is appeal to the pop crowd, she’s certainly radio-friendly for soft-rock, acoustic ‘coffee-shop’ types and she could just as easily straddle the lines into popular country if she felt so inclined. This, of course is only one half of the equation.
Not only is Alexandra a bona fide actress and singer, she is also a legitimate songwriter. Her song “Come and Get Me” is dark and beautiful, taking on themes of death, identity and faith. While this particular song isn’t earth-shattering in its genius, it is a solid contribution, and I believe it holds well among other top artists, and validates Salafranca’s poetic contribution.
Above all else, the song that really takes the cake for me is “Mother” a well-crafted song, building and stripping away layers that range from a Latin guitar base, a hip-hop drum rhythm and finally full on pop chorus. If I were to see her perform only one song with a full on rock band (maybe throw some strings back there, too…) on a big scale stage, this would be it.
While I stop short of saying this offering is a must-have amazing recording session, I will say it presents Alexandra Salafranca to the world with a clear message that she isn’t going anywhere. I can’t wait to see how her singing career develops, and see incredible potential in her song-writing abilities.