Travel, adventure and personal revelation mark the new album by singer/songwriter Alessi Laurent–Marke of Alessi’s Ark. The Still Life is a work both lucid and heartbreakingly lovely, a sonic landscape that roams a wide range of emotions, with (as the songwriter explains), “Nature and love, as common threads”.
Only a few short years into her career, the London-based Laurent-Marke is already prolific: her first, self-released EP, 2007’s Bedroom Bound, garnered the then-teenage artist a major label deal and attention around the globe. A debut album soon followed, with Laurent-Marke heading to Omaha, Nebraska to record with producer Mike Mogis(Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley). The resulting Notes from the Treehouse (EMI/Virgin, 2009) was a testament to both Laurent-Marke’s evolving talents and to her affinity with a new wave of American singer/songwriters. Her most recent release, 2011’s Time Travel, was widely praised by the press, with MOJO swooning, “The understated arrangements suggest you’re listening to a woman with impeccable taste…”
Still only 22, Laurent-Marke travelled to America to record the new album, to the small town of Athens, Georgia and the studio of producer Andy LeMaster, who has worked with everyone from Bright Eyes to Drive-By Truckers. “I had heard brilliant things about Andy as a person,” says Laurent–Marke, “and I felt extremely fortunate to spend time together and work so closely on this album. He brought some very gifted, beautiful musicians on board and I was moved by their warmth in Athens.”
That warmth is all over The Still Life: in the shimmering production, in the players’ performances and in the slow, sweet sway that underlies all the album tracks. “The phrase ‘the still life’ has always resonated with me,” says Laurent-Marke of the album’s title. “In my mind ‘The Still Life’ is what we’re all aiming for, the chapter in our lives that we find peace and understanding, within us and in our surroundings.”