With her recent single “Summer In December” still hot off the press, Dutch-Tanzanian singer-songwriter Alex Who? has wasted no time in dropping her EP, This Is Who Part 1. And with a first record so polished as this one, it’s easy to understand her impatience.
Including songs with titles such as “Mr. Sticky Fingers” and “Dirty Little Secret”, this 5-track record plays how a collection of high-end diary entries might read. With irresistible velveteen vocals and twinkle-in-the-eye lyrics, the talented songstress gives us her take on all things hope and heartache.
The album opens with angsty track “Mr. Sticky Fingers”, a 3.5 minute-long reflection on the difficulty of resisting that person you know is bad news. Within the first few moments of the song, it becomes clear that this is a woman with something to say. Following a staggered entry of bass guitar and beats, minor and wonderfully dramatic, our narrator chimes in at 22 seconds with virtuoso vocals that are bold and unapologetic.
And it is during this first track that the overall tone of the record is set. Although “Mr. Sticky Fingers” is at times tinged with bitterness and includes such lines as, “How’s it you’re so full of shit and still so hollowed out?” the track is ultimately victorious, delivering a “you’re no match for me” message.
Maintaining the same level of sass, Alex picks up the pace for track two, “Dirty Little Secret”. With a self-explanatory title, this track relays the fun side of an under-wraps love affair. With playful brass and a heavily swung beat, “Dirty Little Secret” is cheeky; you can almost see the singer’s wry-smile as she sings: “I know we’re bad, but it keeps getting better.”
Although remaining ever faithful to the record’s upbeat tone, Alex bares her more sensitive side on the third track. Released as a single at the end of June 2017, “Summer In December” is a classic reflection on the way in which that single individual can turn your whole world upside down. With delicious phrasing, the vocals on this track are reminiscent of Jessie Ware. And by once again demonstrating a penchant for brass and swing beats, the singer makes a clear nod to the late Amy Winehouse.
A four chord power song, track four, “Twisted”, addresses the way in which so many modern relationships revolve around games and deceit. Although the knowing lyrics of the first verse suggest men to be the main perpetrators of the game-playing crime: “He’s never lying when he says he’s working late: he’s working hard to get the dresses off his date”, by verse two, it becomes clear that this song finds everyone guilty, boys and girls alike.
Alex takes no prisoners as she sings: “Oh, why must it be this way? Can’t believe anything they say, when nobody shows their face in this twisted little game we play”.
Coming full circle, Alex takes it down a metronome mark for the record’s final track. With a staggered entry that creates the same sense of doom as on the EP’s first track, “Smoke” reminds us that when it comes to love, none of us is innocent. Here, our narrator takes responsibility for another person’s anguish: “I got you dazed, you couldn’t see it through my purple haze“.
This is a record full of juicy tales and multiple perspectives, all narrated with buckets of soul and impressive vocal prowess. Alex Who? may be new to the scene but I have a feeling she’s here to stay and I wait with bated breath for the remaining five tracks of her EP, to be released on This Is Who Part 2 at the end of the year.
Purchase Alex Who? This Is Who Part 1 on iTunes here.
Words by Katherine Holmes