The blue-eyed soul revivalist's music is up without being overtly rebellious
PREVIEW When I see the name Alice Russell, I think first of Alice Coltrane and Arthur Russell before I think of this Brighton, UK, blue-eyed soul revivalist. And I'm aware that this may unfairly predispose me to her music, which is not without its charms.
The two other major UK soul vocalists to make an impact stateside, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, arrived as self-generating publicity machines whose public images matched their respective styles. In contrast, Russell's music is up without being overtly rebellious. The posturing's explicitly enthusiastic, without the attack of Winehouse or the reggae-pop concision of Allen, on Russell's fourth LP, and first bid for a wider audience, Pot of Gold (Six Degrees/Little Poppet), which are at their best and most unique on songs like "Let Us Be Loving," which stitches together a dubby, tumbling rhythm and gives Russell some space disco ethereality.
But the album also has moments of superfluity. I don't get the sense that Russell felt compelled to cover Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" because she could coax some radical reading of it. Instead, it's plunked down in the disc's otherwise-decent closing stretch, as if another anchor wouldn't do a better job of giving listeners a sense of how Russell stands apart from the nu-soul pack. In this light, it's hard not to see nu-soul as a rockist backlash against the perceived inauthenticity of nu-rave, which ultimately isn't inauthentic enough to bother anyone.
ALICE RUSSELL Mon/10, 9 p.m., $15. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. (415) 771-1421, www.theindependentsf.com