“Black Diamond Day” – Alexa Wilding
Talk about engaging the ear, what do you make of the weird chord Alexa Wilding plunks into the middle of her guitar-picking intro? It’s so odd it makes everything after it sound out of tune for a moment, until your mind adjusts, kind of, to the unexpected intrusion.
Wilding’s voice is also part of the slightly jarring but compelling ambiance. A forthright soprano with a piercing quality to the upper register, it’s a voice I’ve seen described elsewhere as “witchy,” and I guess that’ll do. (Voices are so hard to describe. It’s worse than wine.) In the end I think what makes the song work so well for me is the melodic line that we hear, first, beginning at 0:37 (“I’ll obey whatever you say”)—it begins with an extra two beats, setting the lyrics off the regular 4/4 rhythm of the opening lines, and it finishes with spiffy chord progression that takes the resolution to the left, somehow, of what you may have been anticipating. Structurally, this line is B in a verse where the melody goes AABC (i.e. first two lines the same, musically; the second two each different). This “B” line is the most striking of the four but we hear it just that once each time through. It tantalizes, draws you in, then leaves you hanging—until the fourth verse, when the musical line finally repeats (so it’s AABB) through a second lyrical line (“Why do you think I come here today?”) and it’s so satisfying now to hear it twice, and she knows it, and gives it to us two more times as the melody to the delayed, minimal chorus. The song is an impressionistic tale of the complexities of fulfilled passion, and the music does a nice job of mirroring both the doubts and the delights.
Alexa Wilding is a New York City born and bred singer/songwriter who has just released her debut eight-song EP, self-titled. That’s where you’ll find “Black Diamond Day.” No apparent relationship to the old Dylan story-song gem “Black Diamond Bay.” MP3 via Wilding’s site.