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Rhythm & Views

Let's English

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The cover for local singer/songwriter David D'Alessio's latest release, Friendly Fire, shows a sweet little teddy bear holding a heart, gazing out at you with fear in its beady button eyes as flames begin to engulf its ears. Likewise, D'Alessio's "alterna-pop" songs teem with pathos and drama; as the guitars and other instruments swell and reach burning peaks of emotion, the lyrics, often cliché, combine to make songs that are almost consumed by their own outpouring of emotion.

The key word there is "almost." D'Alessio is a talented songwriter, and every song on Friendly Fire delivers a melody hook that few songwriters can wield effectively. At times, though, a lyric pops out that is beautiful in its moment. When D'Alessio sings, "When I am with you I'm awake," on the chorus of "Awake," and, "You are not so pretty that I can't walk away," on "Free From the Past," the sentiments are heartfelt enough to stand out among tired lines like "wake up little sleepy head." The title track, by far the best song on the record, is held together by harpsichord, which not only makes the song sparkle, but manages to help the lyrical concept overpower the individual trite lines.

Friendly Fire has D'Alessio playing most of the instruments; these days, Let's English plays out as a full band, with Collin Scott on guitar, Michelle Kushner on bass and Tommy Prichett on drums, which changes the songs for the better. There's less singed teddy bear, and more growling fire.

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