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Now Hear This: Ten Years of Solitude - Alya

Rating: ****

LA-based Alya dropped her debut album "Ten Years of Solitude" earlier this year and my God has this thing been awarded and praised. She's won a few awards for the music video for "Animals" and "Puppet Strings" has been a riser on the UK and US charts alike.

I'm going to attempt to not let all this praise and award-winning lend bias to my review. I've no clue what any of this music sounds like and I will not be persuaded by honors! I will judge this music on what my ears, brain, and heart tell me!

Anyways, I'm gonna give it a listen and then do what I do after that. Please join me.

Watch the music video for "Puppet Strings" on Youtube below:

We get things started with the mesmerizing "Animals". Alya has a unique voice that is equal parts sweet and haunting. It's a genre hopper and is a little all over the place, but I think it's cool. Solid start. "Seven" is next and I really dig the From the Choirgirl Hotel-era Tori Amos feel of it. "Half of the Sun" is strong, but not as strong as the first 2 tracks. That's ok. I still enjoy the vibe and it continues to set the mood for the album. "Heart Shaped Hole" has a nice synth and drum machine intro and is arguably the best-sung song thus far. Just gorgeous. "Puppet Strings" might have the most radio appeal of any tune on the LP. Really good pop song. "Twenty Six" is a nice change-of-pace as it has more of an industrial rock energy to it. Like Tori Amos sang for Nine Inch Nails. "Angel" continues the theme of Amos-inspired tracks while "Hachiko" sounds like it could be the theme song for the newest Disney movie. "Romano" adds an Asian flair with the song even being sung in Japanese. "Colorful Dreams" ends the record with a pretty lounge number that turns electronic somewhere near the middle. Unexpected. Solid.

I really enjoyed this album front-to-back. That said, I thought it lacked any real standout tracks. There also aren't any bad tracks on the entire album. If you're a fan of late 90's era Tori Amos this is going to be right in your wheelhouse. Highly recommended.

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