Alex Isley shows stiff vocals and thoughtful songwriting with ‘Marigold’ – The Oswegonian
By Jade Gatling
“Marigold” is Alex Isley’s latest album (“Good and Plenty”) with singer and producer Jack Dine (“Love Again”). The album is perhaps one of their most ambitious releases to date. The album takes an interesting turn, capitalizing on its musical assets.
Named after a beautiful flower, “Marigold” explores many emotions.
“It’s a lot of thinking about this album,” Isley explained during an interview with Rated R&B. “This album reflects memories, some pleasant and some less pleasant. I hope there is inspiration. I hope there can be healing or encouragement. I hope it’s something that adds to the life of the listener.
The album was strong but poses many questions about when Isley will show intense growth as an artist.
The first song on the album is “Such a Thing”, which teleports the listener into “Too Bad I Forget”, the next song. Isley sings on soft melodies and an indie guitar. His voice dominates the guitar during the bridge of the song. This doesn’t seem like a problem until she covers Dine’s voice.
“Such a Thing” is objectively a well-written and well-produced song. For the first minute of the track, Isley’s daughter speaks quietly in the background. It does a good job of welcoming the listener into the atmosphere of the music. However, it should have been located in the middle of the album.
“Still Wonder” reveals how Isley feels after her romantic relationships. It also shows the chemistry between her and Glasper as their voices intersect over a flowing instrument.
“Square Zero” is one of the upbeat tracks on the album. The lyrics are very heavy and conversation-based. This makes the listener wonder who they were referring to when creating the song.
The song is left to interpretation, not only with its message, but also with its voice. Isley’s voice is extremely reverberant while singing. This creates an effect of euphoria and sadness at the same time.
In the middle of the album is “Under the Moon”, which is a relatable song in many ways. Isley talks about loving her partner so much that she wants to go to space with them. Although it’s a very strange concept, she is vulnerable and honest when she sings.
The penultimate track is titled “Still Wonder” and features Robert Glasper (“Freeze Tag”). Glasper and Isley have done songs together in the past. She told the press that she considered him a big brother. It was Dine’s suggestion that they do the song together.
Towards the end of the album, Dine’s production becomes heavier and darker. Isley adapts to the change by talking about heartbreak and the pain that comes with being in love.
Dine produces every track with a hollow sound. It was interesting that he chose to resonate with Isley’s vocals, it works well with the perspective the album is heading towards.
On this project, Isley remains rigid in his voice, his lyrics and his melodies. In this recent project, fans expected her to experiment with new ideas while staying grounded in her sound.
The album shows more of Isley’s vocal and melodic abilities, but it leaves the listener wanting more. Her sound has improved from her previous albums, but she seems comfortable being “a jazz singer”.
Image of Alex Isley, Jack Dine – Subject by YouTube