Alessi Laurent-Marke’s third album as Alessi’s Ark, The Still Life, is representative of both her prodigious promise and youthful follies.
The Still Life comfortably fits 13 songs in just over 30 minutes. Laurent-Marke pinpoints musical ideas and wastes no time. Four songs clock in under 2 minutes, something more common in punk than in the modern folk she produces.
The cute “Money” makes its point in the first verse with money bag percussion and quickly builds to a group-sung chorus before fading out. “The Good Song” is gorgeous and would be enjoyable at five times its length, but by making it fleeting there’s more urgency to savor the song.
Other tracks try to expand on core ideas, but still keep things simple. “The Rain” bubbles with electronic flourishes and expands the albums color pallet. “Sans Ballace” includes an ambient bridge that makes the track feel more expansive than it is.
Unfortunately, Laurent-Marke’s interpretation of The National’s “Afraid of Everyone” distracts from the rest of The Still Life. Placed right in the middle of the album, the plodding, heavy song disrupts the pace and leaves the listener asking, “Why is this here?” It isn’t a bad cover, but it feels as if she isn’t confident in her own work.
The Still Life showcases tons of promise. Laurent-Marke is young, but she has a clear vision for Alessi’s Ark and the talent to execute it. Unfortunately, an album that could have stood on its own is marred by a ill-advised cover song.
The Still Life is available now on Bella Union.