SONG CLUB REVIEW: “Alone” by Allanah Jeffreys
(This post is based on the script Mark David Stallard wrote for The Invisible Song Club live show.)
“Alone” is a thought provoking and well performed pop song, that is far deeper that it might first appear.
A synthesizer plays a unique one bar riff that repeats throughout the first verse. There is also a subtle electronic rhythm behind it. The riff keeps going, playing the arpeggio in the same chord, which appears to be a G6 (I’ll come back to that).
The vocals come in after a few bars with a very emotional performance, that one might think was from a much more mature singer. The melody is sung in short clear bursts, which leaves us with a little time for the words to sink in.
For the second verse, the bass comes in and immediately seems to be at odds with the synthesizer. Rather than the bass playing the root of the chord, which should be a G, it starts on the E. While this is part of the G6 chord, it doesn’t seem right. Over the following few bars the bass plays down hitting a C, which isn’t in the G6 chord at all, and then comes back to the E. It feels a little bit wrong. This use of the bass and the unusual synth riff along with the excellent vocal performance builds a lot of tension.
Just as the tension becomes almost palpable, the vocal crescendos, and we’re brought headlong into the chorus. The electronic drum thuds in the background. And I have to mention the Funky rhythm guitar. It wouldn’t seem out of place on a Prince track. The melody rises and falls, teasing us in the middle of each staccato phrase, as if coming down to the root but instead it keeps us hanging, making us wait. It’s a comfortable melody, there is a level of predictability to it, but it’s really hard to make a catchy chorus that isn’t.
After two more verses and two more choruses, the energy drops a little. The bass and electronic drums back off, as the vocals push to the very front. And just when we expect the chorus to come in hard and fast, the instrumentation holds back. It mirrors the very first verse with the synth and voice. But as the chorus repeats for the last time, everything comes in full of energy before coming to a satisfying end.
The lyric is quite inventive. The idea of being shot in the chest as a metaphor for heartbreak, might seem a bit severe, a bit violent, but it doesn’t come across that way at all. It really is a fitting way to describe something that can feel so devastatingly painful at the time.
and when you break down I rebuild you
still cut and bruised from the night before
is this just a dream how can this all be real
still I keep on crawling back for more
I pulled the bullet straight out of my own chest
I can’t remember when I had a night of rest
There’s some powerful language there.
“Alone” is a really well-written song, which is performed with conviction. I am sure we will hear a lot more songs like this from Allanah.
-- Mark David Stallard