Who is Alison Ray? I have been asking myself that question. She’s a young woman with a pretty face and soothing voice. I think this is her debut CD, but I couldn't find anything on her. The music on Downside Up has a rustic, rock ‘n’ roll sound, which Ray's voice matches nicely. She has a mixed sound about her, kind of like Melissa Etheridge crashes into Britney Spears, singing about heartaches and good times lost.
Eleven tracks make up this disc; some have, or try to have, a hard rock edge. The others have a "feel good pop" sound that you can hear on the mainstream radio station; you know, the ones that play more commercials than music.
The first track "Does the DJ Know" sets the tone of the CD. It’s about a DJ who plays a song that gets her excited and makes her want to jump all over the guy. It has simple guitar riffs and easy drum beats. Nothing too complex or anything to make you say, “Wow!” The next track is "Wonderful Day", where she wonders if the guy who she wants to jump on wants to jump on her just as much – and if so, then that will be the “wonderful day".
"Dirty Little Secret" (D.L.S.) is the fourth track, and this one has a little darker tone to it. As you can guess by the title, Miss Alison seems to have found out that her love is cheating on her. Once again, the music is straightforward. Nothing stands out. The guitars really don't have any solos and are used strictly to bridge Ray’s singing. On "Love Is the Thing" you get the feeling that no matter how much shit Alison has gone through, she is still hopeful about love. (That’s nice.)
The closing track is "Nothing Short of Beautiful". Ray lets you know that the world around you is beautiful, and no matter what happens, sooner or later things will turn up for you. The music sounds like it wants to blast through but is kept under control, so Alison can perform. For her first CD, Downside Up sounds like any pop album that is out there now, being played at junior high dances across the country.
I guess that if you are a young girl, between the ages of 13 and 17, you might want to pick this CD up, but it would behoove you to invest your cash in something that will stay with you for a long time, such as Aretha Franklin, or Bonnie Raitt, or even Alanis Morrisette. (Although she has toned it down over the years; I liked it when she was pissed off.) Maybe that's what Alison Ray needs to do: get pissed off and then write it out.
By the time I put this CD through the Fumo Listing Test, I had lost interest more times than a tweeker watching C-Span. For a debut CD, this one falls short of really being memorable. Let me know if you ever hear of this girl on the radio, I'll make sure to block out that station.
Written by Fumo Verde