Metallo's Uneven Debut Showcases Multiple Genres

Artist:  Alyce Metallo
Title:  Alyce Metallo
Label:  Independent

It’s really not that surprising that Alyce Metallo was voted by fans into the Momentum 2008 Awards for Female Vocalist of the Year and Urban Artist of the Year, although I personally think her talents should not be shoved into either of those categories.

The Washington, D.C.-based independent artist does have a soulful groove, yes, but her classical piano training shows through many of the freshly arranged compositions of her debut album. And she can handle a Latin samba, a jazz groove, or a techno track just as easily as an R&B song. The album somewhat unevenly showcases her many talents, but when she’s on, she’s red hot.

Metallo’s vocal is big over the techno-laced rhythms of the bouncy opener “Stay,” covering the requests of Jesus for the disciples to wait with him in the garden. I like the strong biblical orientation of her songs, carried over to the attractive album packaging. She adds an urban sizzle and harp arpeggios to the classic hymn “Blessed Assurance,” and soars easily over the strong background vocals of the quietly pulsating ballad “The Promise.”

I enjoyed the lyrics of devotion and the warm keys of gospel track “The Reason I Live,” as well as the bossa nova groove of the upbeat “Mourning into Dancing.” But the thickly nuanced “Sisters in Christ” was way too syrupy for my taste and the odd movements of the techno-buzzy “Dive In!” never really gelled despite the searing electric guitar solo.
All was forgiven after the subtly jazzy standout track “Live in the Son,” sizzling with trumpet embellishments and quiet congo accompaniment. The joyful urban bounce of “I’ll Fly Away” worked well with its rich guitar nuances, but Metallo failed completely to reach the vocal heights she aimed for with “Worthy Is the Lamb,” unfortunately. But to her credit she scored with the brave and stark arrangement of “No Song without You”—simply cello, keys, and her warm voice.

Some of Metallo’s missteps could be a matter of selecting the wrong material, as she clearly has the vocal chops to bring it. The powerfully arranged and beautifully executed closer “Paradise” reveals just this. While Alyce Metallo’s debut does contain a few misses, it just as strongly displays a new talent worthy of recognition.

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