Published Nov 19, 2019Alexandria Maillot's voice has been compared to that of many — Feist, Stevie Nicks and Brittany Howard. I'd like to add my own comparison: a captivating middle ground between Lana Del Rey and Maggie Rogers.
At what point, though, can an artist escape comparison and come into her own? Perhaps with a record as unique as Maillot's sophomore effort Benevolence. It's an album that defies stiff categorization by constantly keeping you on your toes. For example, "Messed It Up" begins with the electric twang of a guitar, but soon slips to a jazzy smokiness. Folksy "Make It Out" flows downright anthemic near the end.
Just when you start to think that every song will be of the same Southern rock tonality, you get jolted by the slinky shuffle of drums and soft hum of the bass in "Someone to Keep You Warm," which begins a bit like a track off Del Rey's Ultraviolence, melodramatic (in a good way) organ and all. This track, following the album's theme of militating against type, leans poppy.
Lyrically, the album is strong. "Pale" best exemplifies Maillot's prowess, evincing a raw and unfiltered self-awareness that is respectable. Maillot knows who she is, and she isn't afraid to tell you.
An unfortunate consequence of genre defiance in an album might be an overall disjointedness. Benevolence narrowly escapes this by virtue of its uniqueness, which shines through in every track, whether it be the grandness of "I Never Liked Your Friends," or "The Judge," which rounds off the record, and it's a stunner. Reminiscent of Doris Day's voice heard through water, it's haunting, simmering to an end with the static-y laps of a record player.
All this distinctiveness in the sounds and Maillot's voice on the album, which is sometimes nearby and other times far away, will linger in your mind. (Independent)