“Sister Wife” – Alex Winston
How and why do some songs grab you right away? It’s a mystery. This one has a bashy, kitchen-sink-y feeling to its wordless vocal intro that makes me quickly happy. And then there may be something in the octave span that deepens the introduction’s allure. That is, Winston’s “oo-oos” descend an entire scale in that opening section; and I think the ear is engaged when a melody encompasses the whole scale, just like our eye is engaged by a black-and-white photo that utilizes the entire range of gray.
And when she starts singing the actual lyrics, watch out. I am now hooked by new mysteries: her rich yet slightly baby-ish voice, calling up echoes of early Kate Bush recordings; a lyrical audacity that launches us into the middle of a song that seems to be about polygamy; the xylophone that augments the “oo-oo” section the second time we hear it. There’s something big and brash on display here, but it’s a sweet sort of brashness, the kind borne of young talent, talent that just does things because they seem right. I could pontificate about the slidey sort of verse that we hear and how it’s sung largely off the beat and out of the center of the measure, and then how it pairs so effectively with a front and center chorus, nearly anthemic in its melodic inevitability; and it may have nothing to do with how she just wrote the damn thing.
Winston is 21, and was born and raised in the Detroit area. She’s now in New York City and watch out. I suspect we’ll be hearing from her. “Sister Wife” is the title track to her debut “mini-LP,” coming in March on Heavy Roc. MP3 via NME.