One of the best rewards of being a music journalist/reviewer is discovering new talent every single day, especially local musicians. Step aside Torontonians; we got ourselves the next Amy Winehouse. The Tanzanian-Canadian singer/songwriter Alysha Brillinger from Kitchener, ON; or better known as her stage name, Alysha Brilla, has had a great amount of success over the past 12 months.
Her unique and perky personality has reflected greatly on her music style. Like any independent musician, finding something that draws from other music genres is important. Brilla manages to embody a mix of pop, jazz, calypso, reggae, and even a dash of blues and impulsive acoustic ballads. The music, especially in her new album In My Head succeeds to deliver a peaceful and quirkily fun adventure in an all-new Brilla genre, or as she categorizes it, “Hippie-jazz.”
Her second album, In My Head, was written, performed and produced by Brilla herself. She was signed to a label, Lava Records/Universal Republic, when she was 19 but decided that she wanted to produce an independent album where it sounded exactly how she want it to be. This is something new independent musicians don’t envision and it’s something I haven’t heard out of an artist’s mouth in quite a while. As an independent musician not signed to a label, you have the power to produce and create a piece that resembles your personality and character in full. Listeners will be entering your world and journey through sorrow, laughter and happiness in something that is true to your heart because you are initially the person who mastered the masterpiece. I have much respect for Brilla for this second album, writing, performing and producing is not easy to accomplish but she manages to create a remarkable and flawless album.
In My Head is a time machine set to that misty bar in the 1940’s and journeying to present day in L.A. humming along to the streets.
Exploring Through The Songs
1. In My Head
In My Head begins Brilla’s album uncovers the story of her obsession with her now ex-boyfriend. This track concentrates more on a piano ballad with some fun circus-like trumpet and horn sounds.
The original of this song was acoustic guitar driven and caters more to her astonishing and distinctive range and style.
This is one of my favourite tracks off her album. Brilla gives tribute to her Tanzanian heritage by doing a verse in Swahili. Most won’t understand what she’s saying in that very verse but you still find yourself jamming to the tune and trying to repeat, in your fullest potential, what she’s saying in Swahili. The bongos, percussion and trumpet along with her incredible vocals bring a smile to your face. Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that trumpet solo … WOW! Goosebumps. You’ll find yourself dancing throughout this cheerful anthem. I can’t wait to see her perform this live.
3. Sailor’s Wife
Backing up her unique style, Brilla manages to pull off a Bob Marley reggae vibe with this one. The simmering bass line and not to forget that fierce trumpet solo (played by Marie Goudy) makes the listen highly enjoyable. If you enjoyed this tune you would definitely feel the same about the music video.
4. Ain’t Right
A true bluesy and jazzy melody you will find in a smoky 1940’s jazz bar. Just close your eyes and let the horns and vocal harmonies take you away.
5. Two Shots
What I love about Brilla’s style of music is that even though some of her lyrics are quite sad she still produces a surprisingly up-tempo and vivacious track. Even with the fun melody, Brilla’s pain and misery is still present. What a great mix. Genius.
6. L.A. Hotel Room
Another of my favourites off this album, this track is a despondent mix of guitar and peaceful vocals about a girl facing loneliness, love, denial and lost. Despite the sweetness and soothing guitar riffs the song portrays a mist of haunting and deep emotions.
7. Never Gonna Get Me Back
Anger. The whole aspect of the role of a women and truth to the empowerment of women is felt through this song. Brilla can be, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she isn’t already, a role model to many young women. Not only musically through her lyrics but as an independent woman herself. I don’t know her as a person but her strength, pureness, truth and power – especially shown through this song – makes me want to meet her.
An upbeat, fun and exceptionally emboldening track full of percussion, trumpet and bass to bring out a scandalous feel. Arriba! Brilla’s voice is naturally peaceful and is highly pleasing in any song, this one being no exception.
9. Mark On Me
This song portrays a jazz and reggae feel. What seems like two genres far a part is actually a beautiful masterpiece when combined. That rich trumpet and clashing bongos pleases the ear nicely. Well done.
Known to be Brilla’s anthem as she expresses her mission of making music to make the listeners feel good. A form of acceptance. An uplifted, empowering and flawless tune that manages to bring the fun and smiles out of anyone.
11. I Don’t Need The Stars
Closing this immaculate journey, “I Don’t Need the Stars” is a new and fresh jazzy piece filled with blissful horns and bass and outstanding vocals.
There wasn’t a track on this album that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. Every song is different from the next. This brings the eagerness in a listener when that one song ends and another begins. It’s pity to say that I just discovered this young talent and didn’t have the luxury to see her grow. Better late than never. Now it’s just the matter of taking this golden album live and seeing her perform on stage here in Toronto. I’m a Brilliever!
© Jessica Paiva, Music Vice
Internet link: Alysha Brilla
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