by Tyler Stone
Traditional female traits like nurturing aren't necessarily bad. It's just that as modern women, we see ourselves as more complex creatures of self-empowerment.
While the modern woman stakes her claim to what we've formerly considered male roles like CEO or drummer, she seeks to redefine traditional female roles: secretary is now executive assistant; stewardess, flight attendant.
Or in the case of the musician, "just the singer" is now the lead vocalist. Still, even with this change in title, we have to remind the sound engineer, who is 99.9% of the time male, that yes, we know the difference between reverb and delay. And yes, our in-ear monitors are powered on.
Alison Goldfrapp stands out as that self-empowered woman and stakes her claim to the role of lead vocalist. Ignoring the rules of the status quo, Alison writes her own narrative, using strength without dismissing vulnerability, expressing sensuality without being overtly sexual, and displaying intelligence without getting too heady.
Since the release of their first album, Felt Mountain, in 2000, Goldfrapp has been on a steady incline of notoriety. Their second album, Black Cherry (my personal favorite . . . until now, that is) did well on the U.K. charts. But it was their third album Supernature and their hit "Ooh La La" that launched them into the international spotlight.
Their new release Silver Eye is a return to the sonic landscape of Black Cherry and Supernature. The electronic duo delivers more than just an instrumental foundation with a top line. Rather, it’s equal parts synths and vocals driving the music, each contributing a unique style and sound palette.
Alison's delicate voice is like a silk robe falling to the floor—only to be dragged through a dirty bed of analog synths. It's that juxtaposition that creates the beautiful friction in the music, which is aptly executed throughout Silver Eye.
In pop music, woman tend to use sexuality to garner attention and then attach a message of empowerment to it. But by not drawing attention to her age or sexual preference, Alison is able to deliver to the listener a message with depth and perspective as she reflects on her personal experiences.
Her lyrics are exquisitely poetic, imprinting images and sensations in listeners’ minds on a bed of thick emotion with descriptives like "Your scent like storms / Is wild divine" or "We're on fire / We'll eat stars / Everything / Is never enough."
But Alison's voice transcends her lyrics. On the lead single "Anymore," she somehow makes the simple words "You’re what I want / You’re what I need" seem like a new idea.
On "Become the One," a song inspired by watching a documentary on transgender children, she uses the pitch shift to make her voice sound androgynous. As she continues to sing "Become the one / You know you are," a female voice slowly emerges. Brilliant!
Even in 2017, women sadly still struggle to find an identity in a man-made world. Alison Goldfrapp is a refreshing reminder that we don't have to settle. She has me believing that maybe we can have it all.
Tyler Stone is a vocalist, musician, producer/remixer, DJ, and one of the first female house music producers. She’s achieved several top-ten Billboard Dance hits with her distinctive West Coast, deep house style.
Tyler lends her sophisticated programming and sultry vocals to her band Sutro and keeps her ear to the ground with her DJ residency. She is a voting member of The Recording Academy (GRAMMYs) and a Trustee for the Pacific NW Chapter.