Alison Sudol inhabits a vivid imaginary world populated by siren songs and sailors, sightless creatures and fragile fallen eagles, a place where almost lovers and hopeless dreams are bid a melancholy musical farewell. And on One Cell in the Sea, Sudol allows the listener inside that often-fantastical world, revealing her inner life via songs Harp magazine praised as "fraught, haunted and beautiful."
One Cell in the Sea is the 14-song debut from A Fine Frenzy, the lineup fronted by 22-year-old singer/pianist Sudol. While A Fine Frenzy's songs are ethereal, the musical and lyrical vision is as thoughtful, brainy and delightful as Sudol herself. Born in Seattle and raised in Los Angeles, Sudol is an only child of divorced parents, finding solace in music that ranged from Ella Fitzgerald to Elton John, from Motown to the melodic melancholia of new global British bands like Aqualung, Radiohead and Keane. The diatonic minimalism of Philip Glass and transportive allure of Icelandic music like Bjork likewise thrilled and informed her sensibilities. Sudol's literary tastes are equally eclectic, including the graceful prose of Jane Austen and the quirky, surreal tales of Lewis Carroll and C.S. Lewis. Then there's the band name, nicked from A Midsummer Night's Dream ("The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; and, as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet's pen turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.") Sudol's songs embody the qualities of her influences: "In Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass,' from one moment to the next you don't know where you are, but at the end it all makes sense," she observes. "You can be in the strangest situation, but it seems normal. I love incorporating that sort of twisted logic into my writing."