Alice Peacock

Real Day

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Alice Peacock wisely opens her debut album with her strongest song, and it's a very strong song, indeed. "I Hear You Say" explores the Venus and Mars distinction between what men say to women and how women interpret it. "Every now and then you say something I understand," she begins, responding to a boyfriend's remarks, then goes on to offer a girlfriend's gloss: "And you will say that everything is gonna be okay/That you could never ask for more... I hear you say that you're easily impressed." The translation may be rough, but somewhere between what he says and what she hears, you can tell things aren't going to work out. "I Hear You Say" impresses because it has something fresh to say about love and the war between the sexes, the imperishable subject of pop music, and because Peacock delivers its lyrics with a conviction that doesn't miss their undercurrent of humor. The equally feisty "Get Your Own," which follows, starts out sounding like another, more exasperated breakup song, and it only gradually becomes apparent that the narrator is actually talking to a female friend who has overstayed her welcome. The one-two punch of these two powerful, individual songs can make the first-time listener to Real Day giddy with anticipation: can the rest of the album be this good? Well, no, but the other nine songs have their definite pleasures. Peacock is not quite the master of her material, sometimes overwriting (the pontifications of "Cracks and Daggers"), sometimes underwriting (in "My Love I Will," she never quite says what it is she will do), but in its mixture of songs about love fulfilled and love frustrated, she often finds unusual ways to describe old verities. It is striking that she can look at love from so many sides, warning away a prospective lover in "I'll Be the One" and sloughing off a dependable but unexciting one in "Something Else," only to turn around and sing "I Do," as cute a romantic pop song as anyone's ever written. Ranging from country-tinged folk-rock to stark piano or acoustic guitar accompaniment, she puts the emphasis on her romantic revelations, singing in a throaty, all-knowing voice. Real Day is not a perfect debut album, but it's bursting with creativity and talent. Its flaws are those of a developing writer who sometimes overreaches but is always reaching in the right direction. There are several potential country hits here if anybody in Nashville is paying attention, but it would be preferable for Peacock to become as well known as her compositions. This ought to be the beginning of a wonderful career.

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