Soul Alley

Soul Alley
Public Alley 421


By Karen Nugent
March 2011

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After Alexandra Stoetzel’s performance at the 2009 Boston Blues Society Challenge, emcee Shor’ty Billups – after giving the lovely Ms. Stoetzel a little peck on the shoulder – told me “she’s got something.” Billups, a Boston blues and funk legend with a little something of his own, was spot on.

Now that “something” can be enjoyed by all on Stoetzel’s new CD, Public Alley 421.

While more on the funk and jazz side of the street, the 13-track disc, produced by keyboardist Bruce Bears, showcases Stoetzel’s ability to hit those difficult jazz notes with a clear, sparkling voice.

I particularly liked the third track, “I’ve Got Reasons,” a funky number that gets the dance juices flowing. Ditto for “I Got the Right Street,” in which Alley adds a bit of Koko Taylor-like growls to her polished voice, and “Sweetest Smile with the Funkiest Style” by an unknown composer (but what a great title!). Again, Stoetzel demonstrates great prowess with some tricky jazz notes.

At other times, dare I say it, she sounds like Aretha Franklin, who must be one of Stoetzel’s big influences. That really comes through on “Your Thing Ain’t No Good Without My Thing,” the title of which appears to be a theme of the album—being wronged by a man. The Stoetzel-co-penned “Had Me Going” is another anger-fueled lament, and then there’s “Punish Me.”

OK. As we all know, those bad feelings have created many blues classics.

Stoetzel is backed by Bears, along with Eric Vincent on guitar (he does a great solo on “Had Me Going”), Louis Ochoa on bass and Justin Oliver on drums. The four met at Berklee, and have been jamming and playing with one another in various bands for years.

The opening track, “Tell Me You’re My Guy,” was written by Stoetzel, Bears and Mike Null, another well-known Boston jazz artist. Stoetzel herself wrote “Feeling Low,” a bluesy ballad.

Alley’s bio says she’s been singing since she was a child with sleeping trouble. But this album sure won’t put anyone to sleep.

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