Sunday, 9 June 2013

Alysha Brilla - In My Head - CD Review

Have a seat and strap yourself in because Alysha Brilla’s music career is about to take off like a rocket carrying a new crew to the International Space Centre.  The Tanzanian-Canadian artist’s second album, “In My Head” is set to be released on July 11th, 2013.  

Already much acclaimed,  as a musician/song-writer, Brilla (A.K.A. Alysha Brillinger) had a record deal with a major US label, but walked away due to creative differences.  Now an independant artist, Brilla wrote, performed and produced the album which follows a torrid relationship from beginning to end.

Here is a track by track look at the new album:

In My Head, the title track begins the story of the relationship with her crazy obsession with a partner. Musically, the track is mainly piano driven, with quirky circus-like sounds thrown in and some horns to add to the fun.  The song itself is an old friend from Alysha’s eponymous titled first album, “Brilla”.  The original one was acoustic and guitar driven.

Nobody finds a jubilant Brilla, who must have made a connection with that guy, because, she is on top of the world. Brilla gives a nod to her Tanzanian heritage by doing a verse in Swahili.   This song is highly percussive and charged with happiness.  My aunt heard this song and said, “I could have used this last week”.   I dare anyone to listen to it and not smile, or sit still.  You’ve got to dance!  I can actually picture the smile on Brilla’s face while she sings this.  Can’t wait to see her do it live!  

Sailor’s Wife was the first new song off the album that Brilla started to perform in late March.  In the song Alysha declares her commitment to the long distance relationship, “I’m gonna wait for you”.  The song has a Bob Marley-esque reggae vibe, with a bubbling bassline, which I love, and is flavoured with a trumpet(!) solo, brilliantly played by Marie Goudy.The music video for this song is nothing but fun to watch! Love it!

Suddenly, the relationship changes course, the “kisses aren’t as sweet, and the hugs aren’t as tight” in Ain’t Right.  The horns take the lead on this track, along with a bouncing bassline.  The song is bluesy and jazzy at the same time and I imagine it’s what I would hear in jazz club in New Orleans.

Why? Why!  Why would someone do this to you Alysha!!?  Why? Who hurt you so much?  “The truth came out that you cheated and you lied.”  This led Brilla to tears, and now she needs some serious drinks to numb the pain  with Two Shots.  Despite the sad lyrics, this track is surprisingly uptempo, and peppy.

The next five songs are representative of the five stages of grief:  denial (L.A. Hotel Room), anger (Never Gonna Get Me Back), bargaining (Sorry), depression (Mark on Me) and finally acceptance (Lifted).

The poignant, L.A. Hotel Room is one of my favourite tracks on the album.  Alysha’s guitar, vocals and emotions are front and centre.  The song is sweet and haunting, and I think it will be a sin if it doesn’t become a huge hit.

Another familiar friend, the uplifting (pun purely coincidental) Lifted is Brilla’s anthem, a floor-filling show closer, that embodies her mission of making music to make people feel good.  Just like the In My Head, this track is taken from the Brilla album and given the band treatment to great results.

Closing th album on a positive note, I Don’t Need the Stars, takes us back to a point between tracks one and two when the relationship is still new and fresh, it is a jazzy and sultry number, bass plucking, horns swooning, Alysha and background singers working the mics.  

Overall I found In My Head to be a great album.  I love Brilla’s voice, her songwriting and her spirit.  I can see this being a very successful album for her, so make sure to pick up your copy and check her out live when you get the opportunity, she always puts on an awesome show.  She’s certainly made a Brilliever out of me!  

For tour dates and more information check the links below.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Stay in School, Kids!

I recently got a new car and it came with a free trial of GM’s OnStar service.  By touching a button on my rearview mirror I’m connected to a live operator who can run analysis on my car’s systems or give me driving directions, etc. 

My car didn’t come with a built GPS Navigation system, which is fine because my smart phone is one of the best Navigation devices around, but from time to time I’ve made use of OnStar just for the novelty of it.  I mean might as well make use of my free trial, right? 

Well I had this humorous conversation with an OnStar Customer Service Rep (CSR) the other day and I thought it would be worth sharing.  This is paraphrasing, but it’s pretty close to the actual conversation.

OnStar CSR:  Hello, this is L******, how may I help you today?
Me:  Hello L******, my name is Tony and I’d like directions to a restaurant called “Bangkok Gardens” please.
OnStar CSR:  Is that in Vaughan?
Me:  No, it’s in Toronto.
OnStar CSR:  Is that Bangkok, like the country?
Me:  No, that’s Bangkok like the city.
OnStar CSR:  Huh, the what?  Oh…yeah…I have those directions for you…they’re downloading now.
Me: Thanks L******, you have a great day!

And that folks, is why you should pay attention in geography class.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Experience BRILLiAnce

When a good friend of mine invited me to see a singer I had no idea what to expect. She refused to give me any clues as to what I would witness. What I found was a true diamond in the sky.
My friend Mary, had attended an open air concert by Esperanza Spalding at the TD Jazz Festival and happened to be sitting next to a young lady. They struck up a conversation and soon the young lady had to leave because she was a singer herself and was off to her own gig.  Before leaving she left my friend with her contact information.  

Not long after that, my friend decided to check her out live at the Resevoir Lounge and was moved by her incredible vocal ability.

I saw her at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club, a small bar on The Esplanade, a chic, tiny stretch of bars in the core of Toronto.

Alysha "Brilla" Brillinger took to the stage at 10 pm sharp, strumming her guitar, and accompanied by Sam Dlugokecki on the cajón. She opened her set with the Jackson 5's I Want You Back.
I was immediately taken by Brilla's playful open handed guitar  strumming which made every song sound fun. Her stunning, soulful voice channeled Amy Winehouse.

What ensued was a serious of cover songs with Brilla's own originals distributed through the night. Her originals were as good, if not better than anything she covered, and what she covered ran the gamut from the aforementioned Amy Winehouse (Valerie) , to Bob Marley (Stir it Up) to Jessie J (Money).

Throughout the night she was joined by guests, Mark who laid down a rendition of Let's Get it On that was so good you know Marvin was smiling down it. Djembe by Garima Harvey added to Sam D's drumming. Brilla reminded the audience that percussion was the first sound we heard in the womb as a fetus hearing our mother's heartbeat.

During her third and final set of the night Brilla wss joined by a musician that she drew a lot of inspiration from, her father, Yasin Dewji. He stood at the back of the stage playing bass guitar.

The night climaxed with a packed dance floor grooving to Brilla's anthemic Lifted. What a great night. Brilla has a weekly residency at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club and I was already looking forward to the next Thursday night I could make it down there and if you have the opportunity, you should go check her out too!

Experience BRILLiAnce here: