Alice Peacock

Alice Peacock

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Alice Peacock's self-released debut album, Real Day, boded well for her as a new, young singer/songwriter who had some unusual twists on the age-old subjects of romantic love and the war between the sexes. The album attracted critical acclaim and led Peacock to a deal with Aware Records, which is distributed by Columbia Records, thus landing her on a major label the second time around. Her self-titled second album has some more impressive songwriting, even if it is somewhat loaded with guest stars and bits of trendy production intended to earn her a berth on Top 40 radio and MTV. The high-powered help seems to have been attracted by her talent. Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers co-writes two songs and plays and/or sings on them; Buddy Mondlock also gets a co-writing credit. Other sidemen include Jon Brion, John Gorka, and labelmate John Mayer, and mixer-to-the-stars Bob Clearmountain has playing, producing, and mixing credits. The guests -- and a bigger recording budget, no doubt -- enable Peacock and producer Joel Sayles to add gimmicky percussion programming here and Beatles-like effects there, which may achieve the goal of getting her a hit even if they detract from her main virtues: her songwriting and her breathy, expressive voice. She repeats two songs from Real Day: its best tune, "I Hear You Say," and one of its catchiest, "I'll Be the One" (slated as the first single). Among the new material, far more affecting are the relatively unadorned songs, such as the lament "Some Things Get Lost," rather than over-produced tracks like "All Consuming Love." There are enough of those to confirm that Real Day did not mark Peacock's only period of inspiration and to indicate that she is gaining better control over her muse while remaining willing to take emotional risks in her writing.

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