TVD Package Deal: Alice Smith Revisited

Dear TVD readers,

I would like to apologize for the fanatical gushing to follow.

I believe this to be my sixth Alice Smith experience, and the second time at Philadelphia’s Tin Angel, last Saturday, June 25th.

That may seem like a high number, to those who’ve never heard her live, but each time she brings a soulful potent voice, new creative songwriting, and a lot of personality. There was no opener (bless you Tin Angel); she sang the 8pm slot, and was welcomed by loyal, patient, and adoring Philly fans.

It all began, for me, in 2008 at a half-empty Black Cat, where she started off slow, full band, fighting to win the audience over with her voice. I listened, glued to the checkered floor with tears streaming down my face. One month later, I heard her at a sold-out 9:30 Club with screaming fans, Res as her opener, and plenty of people curious to know more about “that girl who sang that song from The L-Word” [“Dream”].

I then saw her at Joe’s Pub in New York. You’ve seen all the taped live performances on Youtube, you know that venue—it was intimate, genre-bending, and exciting. I heard her in Philadelphia in 2010 at Tin Angel, small, narrow, and honestly, I came away disappointed; she didn’t blow me down the hall, her piano player did not accompany her properly, and I thought maybe I’d hit “fan-fatigue.”

Fortunately on my last encounter, one year ago, at BB Kings, I regained my wits; she cleared my mind with “Break,” jump-started my heart with “So Bad,” and subsequently broke it [my heart] with “Goody.” Alice came out in a skin-tight black dress, even though she was terrifically pregnant (which, at first, took the men seated at the surrounding tables by surprise—but, come on, they’re shallow). As usual she was stunning, and she sang. the. walls. apart.

During that performance she would catch a glimpse of her silhouette on the rear curtain and laugh at her pregnant belly. With increasingly impressive stage presence and “at home” comfort with the crowd, she has really grown since Black Cat. I have enjoyed watching her change, and although she would not give out any more information about the baby, she did mention the album, just once. A member of the crowd yelled “When is the second album dropping!?” She paused, and with a sassy, defiant look she replied, “Call Sony!” I remember thinking that night, “If I don’t receive this album soon, I plan to take action, drastic action. I know all of the songs by heart. I need to be able to access them all the time, any time.”

The future is here.

After her 2006 release of For Lovers, Dreamers & Me (that was five years ago), Alice Smith has finally freed herself from that label and her performance at Tin Angel Saturday night was overflowing with fresh music, hopeful energy, and a charismatic stage presence. Alice seems determined to finish her album in the coming months and start touring again. I would like to go ahead and call dibs, and wish Alice Smith a great deal of success. Her talent has been “off the shelves” for too long!

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