NonCOMM Recap: ALA.NI swoons with You & I for her Free at Noon performance

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ANI.LI | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

British artist ALA.NI eased us into the final day of NonCOMM with a soulfully stripped-down set of songs from her forthcoming You & I LP, a debut effort set for a June 9th release in the U.S.

It was an afternoon of swooning, aching, and joyfully reminiscing alongside the Paris-based singer-songwriter. Accompanied only by the velvety tones of an acoustic guitar, ALA.NI’s classically emotive vocals called for no other accessories. Opening song “Cherry Blossoms” ebbed and flowed with the hopeful longing of everlasting love, silencing the usually chatty bar crowd with its golden-age-of-jazz nostalgia.

Between songs we got a sense of ALA.NI’s lighthearted off-stage personality. She did jumping jacks, cracked a joke about the time of day, and echoing some political sentiments shared by Blondie two nights ago, explained why she was outfitted in a bold t-shirt lettered with “Unfuck the World” – “I’ve been told I can’t swear so I wore a t-shirt instead,” she explained to cheers.

The moments of exuberance were brief, though, as she moved through the subtle and timeless songs. There was “Ol Fashioned Kiss,” a bubbling ode to sweet expressions, and “Suddenly,” a poetic dream that unveiled the fickleness of love in the style of Judy Garland. “Darkness at Noon” flipped the coin to a bleaker side, unpacking the feelings that swirl around heartbreak. But even in the song’s darkest moments ALA.NI was restrained, letting the ringing clarity of her voice convey her pain rather than spelling it out for us. Wanting to end the show on a happy note she introduced “To the River’ as a “song about death,” its perky melody belying the less-than-happy universal truth of the refrains.

Setlist

Cherry Blossom
Ol Fashioned Kiss
Suddenly
Darkness at Noon
To the River

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