Title - ‘Achilles’
Artist - Alanna Royale
Alanna Royale, a band, not a female solo singer; although there is a female singer here, have just-released their long-awaited debut full-length album, Achilles - and man, is it good!
In the past two years the band have released a couple of EPs, have toured extensively, and even graced festival stages around the country. Their truly bombastic, soulful vibe is such a breath of fresh air to hear, especially in this day and age of retread sounds, or simply shouted lyrics.
Opening up this delightfully rich album is, ‘Last To Know, which is a triumphant, uplifting soul/funk creation., and that’s backed by the delicious first single from the album, ‘Animal.’ Next up is the sweet ballad sway of ‘Nobody Else’ and showcases another vocal level of front woman, Alana Quinn-Broadus.
Recorded at the Bomb Shelter in Nashville and produced by Andrija Tokic, the record also includes performances from Peter Keyes (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Aaron Mortenson (Los Colognes), Mitch Jones (Fly Golden Eagle), Maureen Murphy, Jamie Babbitt, and Elenore Dening. Recorded analog with no editing, auto-tuning, or computers, this is what makes Achilles so damn good. It’s an old-school, yet fresh approach to recording today and brings with it a musical honesty just not found on new releases these days.
Moving on and next up is ‘Cop Show,’ which bleeds beautifully into the mid-tempo beats of ‘Phantom Limb.’ The southern revival continues on with the vibrancy of (#6) ‘Big Time Me,’ a track that is just pure fast-paced, high-on-funk brilliance. Backed by trumpets working their socks off, the song is another private showcase for Alanna’s vocals. In fact, the very same could be said of the following song, ‘18.’
Alanna’s vocal tone is just a real pleasure to listen to, and combined with the guitar playing of Jared Colby, well, the perfect relationship is most definitely being born here. And, funnily enough, in real life Alanna is engaged to the band’s guitar player! They met in Boston and moved to Nashville together and they both graduated from the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
Next up is the melodic horn delights of, ‘True Fool,’ which is backed by the storytelling of ‘Rock & Stone,’ and then the album is finally brought to a close with the feisty, balls-out funk of ‘Go Back.’ Quite possibly the best track on this stunning album, guided by a horn section on fire, it musically careens like a speeding train until it’s final destination is fulfilled.
Oh, and as for that cover album artwork, “In the myth, Achilles was shot in the heel with an arrow and that fatal flaw was the end of him,” says Alanna. “The picture on the album cover is my hands breaking the arrow. I am stopping the arrow and taking control of my fate and not letting it break me.”
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk