February 2008

A Fine Frenzy - One Cell in the Sea
Virgin Records 0946 3 73825 2 3
Format: CD
Released: 2007

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

A Fine Frenzy is the stage name of 22-year-old self-taught pianist Alison Sudol. Released in July of 2007, One Cell in the Sea is her debut album, and she has since found a solid niche in the alternative/college radio scene. Sudol’s piano playing is lush and expansive, from delicate ivory tickling to dramatic chord crashes, and the arrangements are aimed at a full, highly produced sound. But it is the voice of the strikingly fair redhead that carries her. Comparable to Feist or Regina Spektor, Sudol can stretch her vocals with surprising control from breathless to operatic within the same song.

Standout tracks include the somber single "Almost Lover," a haunting lullaby about lost love, and the fairy-tale yarn of "Rangers." Sudol credits a love of literature and writers such as Lewis Carroll and C. S. Lewis as inspiration for her own writing, and such bookishness is overtly apparent throughout One Cell in the Sea. For the most part, the simplicity of Sudol’s vocals and piano is maintained despite the almost-too-perfect flawlessness of the production.