Genres will only get you so far. They are fine for obvious music, derivative music, music which follows well defined templates. But when you get to artists such as Alison James you have to abandon such easy labels and dig a little deeper. It’s not that her music doesn’t resonate with recognisable sounds, its just that those sounds are better defined as classic or timeless rather than merely throwing them into a collective pool of similar sounding artists.
It’s amazing how subtle and supple such a seemingly simple song can actually be. But its jazz-infused, piano-pop balladry automatically makes you feel like you have been listening to it for most of your life, which has to be the benchmark of any great song. How Do You Know (why no question mark?) lies at the end of a long cannon of work by singer-songwriters from the likes of Joni Mitchell and Carol King, to Tori Amos and Fiona Apple all of whom are equally uncomfortable fits into the usual generic groupings. There may be safety in numbers but there is often brilliant and unique results from going it alone and on that basis I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Alison James.