Independent release, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I'm not 100 percent sure what to make of Alyssa Cooper's style of music. On one hand, the five songs that make up her debut EP Alyssa occasionally suggest that the influx of world music beats into popular music is more far-reaching than I had imagined to this point, and that Cooper sometimes knows exactly what to do with the rhythms. On the other hand, I found myself wishing that she would pick a musical style and stay with it for more than one or two songs.

Alyssa, admittedly, is not the kind of CD you're going to grasp on the first listen, even if you find something about it that you like. Even after repeat listens, chances are you still might be confused at times over just what Cooper is aiming for with this eclectic (and admittedly too brief) collection. But there's enough in the 22 minutes this CD takes up to suggest that Cooper does indeed have what it takes to make a major noise out there.

This is not the impression I got after hearing the disc's opening tune, "No White Dove". With a chorus that needlessly repeats through a good portion of the song, and a combination of underdeveloped lyrics and a melody you can't get hooked into, I admit my hopes in this disc began to fade quickly.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Ah, but this is where Cooper's talent does show through. "Endless Search" is a track that shows Cooper can mix the African and Indian rhythms and drums with pop sensibility. The harmony vocals that Cooper layers on this particular track also help to make the overall sale - and one does have to admit that Cooper has a beautiful singing voice.

This leads me to the ultimate question: Why doesn't Cooper utilize that talent more often on Alyssa? Both "Fade From Me" and "Getcha Groove On" feature Cooper more often rapping the lyrics than singing them. Maybe it's that Cooper wants to prove she can handle all sorts of genres and styles - but she still needs to learn that once you find something you excel at, stick with it.

Alyssa is the kind of disc that challenges the listener - sometimes, in fact, pushing the challenge a little too far. After much careful thought and cotemplation of this disc's music, I know I have no problem with Cooper working in the African and Indian influences into her music. But "Beats" is a track which almost asks a little too much leniency from the listener, especially one whose whole experience of world music might be snippets they hear on a television show, or a latter-day Beatles album. Even for someone like me, who's had more experience to different musical styles, "Beats" tries to bite off more than it can chew. Cooper gets applause for trying to break pop music out of its never-ending stagnancy, but this particular track almost comes off as too heady in the rhythm alone. (The song itself could have used a tune-up or two in the lyrical and structural departments.)

If you take the time and give Alyssa a closer listen, you'll hear the potential Cooper has of being a talent in the near future. Cooper even admits that these particular recordings are early selections from her career. One has to hope that Cooper recognized her mistakes early on and has worked to remedy them. As it stands, Alyssa is a very challenging listen that has its flaws, but does hold out some hope for Cooper's future.

For more information or to order this CD, please visit Alyssa's Web site.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.