Alma, Beth Ditto
Pop for the demanding masses
" A German-English-Canadian serving up chart-toppers with depth. "
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and I’m trying to keep this under 250, so please, look at Alice’s promo pic. Go on, it’s right up there, don’t be shy. At first glance, it’s a typical (pop) singer-songwriter photo, no frills, just your basic portrait shot, appropriate for any occasion – promo pic, Facebook profile pic, EP cover. In fact, she does use it for all of those.
But that’s at first glance. Look again, and you’ll start to notice the subtle hints that this isn’t just another stock press shot – and that Alice isn’t just another pop dame. It’s a pretty, polished pic, but there’s a hint of defiance in the expression, the light catching the dress to make it gleam just right, without shoving it in your face.
You can look at Alice’s music in the same way – simple at first pass, but a multifaceted jewel on deeper inspection. Take her breakthrough hit “No Roots”, for example. It starts off as an ordinary, light tune with a thumping bass beat, counterbalanced by the German singer’s melodious voice drawing on her nomadic youth of moving around with her family. Then in come a tribal-flecked chorus, humming backing vocals and finally, a bridge breakdown via a quick flurry of retro synths that hit out of nowhere. It’s a pop song worthy of the highest marks, showcasing Alice’s vocal talents, broad range of influences and pumping energy, fully on display when she’s hopping around onstage as well.
The next track on her No Roots debut EP goes in a different direction, starting tenderly before building to a huge crescendo mid-song. The next one flies away on a heavy beat and rock guitar licks, and the final one is a ballad worthy of a James Bond title sequence. No wonder Alice Merton snagged a European Border Breakers Award at the 2018 ESNS festival, no wonder you’re sure to hear her name a lot in upcoming years, and no wonder I’m well over 250 words by now.