Alyssa Graham’s recommendation: “Two of the greatest influences on my music, my life and my worldview are Neil Young and Nick Drake. I have spent numerous hours and days listening, loving and disappearing to these two profound and magical artists. However, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about two of my more recent obsessions, namely Francoise Hardy and Serge Gainsbourg. Gainsbourg is one of the most interesting, creative and diverse artists I have ever explored. Gainsbourg has experimented in jazz, funk, pop and rock. He often explored morbid sexuality and suffering and recorded concept albums with themes like Lolita and Nazis. He is “limitless.” His music is always progressive and always deep and it challenges me to go deeper into my own music and expression. When talking about Serge Gainsbourg and how he influenced French pop music it is impossible not to point out the sensual, lush and dreamlike voice and music of Francoise Hardy whom Gainsbourg often worked with. Hardy’s beautiful and spare sound can always lull me into a deep peaceful meditation. The subtle arrangements and the whisper and hum of Francoise’ vocals allow me to imagine and create in a continuous world of beauty and euphoria. She is a constant source of inspiration for me and was a big influence on my current project, The Lock, Stock & Soul EP.”
New To Serge Gainsbourg and Francoise Hardy? Alyssa suggests you start here: “Gainsbourg’s 1971 concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson is a great place to start. Often referred to as his “Lolita-esque” pseudo-autobiographical album, Histoire De Melody Nelson is a combination of funky guitar styling, dark string arrangements and spoken word like vocals. A quintessential Gainsbourg creation. A new super deluxe version coming out this month. Also, 1971, Francoise Hardy’s LA Question is truly a masterpiece. Subtle and spare, seductive and romantic, La Question is brilliantly produced and offers everything you could ever want from this dreamy and stunning artist.”
About our guest author, Alyssa Graham: Alyssa co-led a band called Blindman’s Holiday in college, and the group was quickly recognized by Entertainment Magazine as one of the best college bands in the country. The hype helped the band nab touring gigs with The Band, Lisa Loeb, and The Wailers. Alyssa then enrolled at The New England Conservatory and released her debut album, What Love Is, in 2005. The album was chosen by All About Jazz as one of its “Best New Recordings of 2005” and set the stage for her 2008 release, Echo, a collection that was named one of the “Top 10 Vocal Albums of the Year” by iTunes. Alyssa most recently released Lock, Stock & Soul, an album that features contributions from Meshell Ndegeocello (bass) and David Garza (vocals) and is described by Team Graham as “a full-circle return to Graham’s longtime musical loves: Neil Young, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan.” You might hear a bit of Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell in there, too, as well as echoes of Norah Jones, and for good reason: For this record, Alyssa was able to snag Grammy-winning producer Craig Street, who produced Jones’ breakthrough Come Away With Me, and Jesse Harris, who penned Norah’s smash Don’t Know Why. Alyssa has friends in high places and utilizes them perfectly on this collection.