‘Every Seed We Plant’ – Alice DiMicele

4 stars (out of 5)

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Three decades in the business and fifteen albums is quite an impressive achievement. ‘Every Seed We Plant’ is the next step; album sixteen. The good news is that Alice’s creativity is undimmed after that time and her voice is still as powerful as ever over the whole of its wide range. The album displays a wide range of styles from the slow country waltz feel of ‘Sweet Elaine’ to the soulful rock of the album’s opener ‘For Granted’. The styles may vary but there are several themes related to the last two years running through the album that create a sense of unity across the piece. Apart from the obvious references to grief, there’s anger, redemption, joy and a sense of rebirth. The album’s opening and closing songs both have references to planting and nurturing.

The two songs that best demonstrate the emotional range of the album are ‘Dispatch’ and ‘Sweet Elaine’. ‘Dispatch’ is a very angry song about the real events that led to the killing of a black retired Marine, Kenneth Chamberlain, in his home in White Plains, New York. The story’s told from the point of view of the dispatcher responsible for sending the police to activations of LifeAid medical alarms, who was called by Chamberlain asking the police to withdraw. It’s a very angry song about something that’s still way too common in America today, told in a very compelling way. ‘Sweet Elaine’ is a slow country-rock waltz telling the beautiful story of a woman and a dog who profoundly change each other’s lives. The slight vibrato on the vocal and the Eagles-style vocal harmonies create a happy and relaxed feel that perfectly matches the positive narrative.

The album opens with ‘For Granted’, a soulful rock groove in a seventies style that evokes Maggie Bell or even an in-tune version of Janis Joplin. It nods in the direction of Etta James’s ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ (the unnecessary cover of choice for many a second-rate blues-rock band) with a rock band line-up including organ and piano (with the obligatory triplets of course). Alice’s voice is so versatile that there are comparisons to be made with Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones and many others. The band arrangements are equally diverse, with ‘Jersey’, not surprisingly, having a hint of the E Street Band as it takes a hammer to the New Jersey stereotypes that Alice has probably heard for most of her life.

As a whole, the album takes a journey through the various stages of recovery from the pandemic and its associated woes from grief to rebirth, with the final two songs, ‘Sweet Elaine’ and ‘’Every Seed’ looking forward to a more hopeful future. It’s a lovely example of creating beautiful art from unpromising raw materials.

‘Every Seed We Plant’ is out now in the UK on Alice Otter Music (AO116).

Here’s the video for the title song:

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