Essex born Alison Moyet released her debut album in 1984 having had success as one half of synth pop duo Yazoo who had hits with “Only You” and “Don’t Go” where Moyet’s prominent voice was the main feature.
Having had a solo hit with the Jazz standard “Old Devil Called Love” Moyet was ready for his first full length album which resulted in “Alf”.
“Alf” kicks off with the delightful “Love Resurrection”. Moyet co wrote this with her producers Steve Jolley and Tony Swain (who wrote Spandu Ballet’s ‘True’). The song was a massive success and Moyet sounds brilliant over a track which encapsulates the 1980’s sound. The lyrics like many 80’s songs are sometimes over complicated in the need to find meaning to a subject that has a message which is quite clear:
“What seed must I sow to replenish this barren land
Teach me to harvest, I want you to grow in my hand
Let’s be optimistic, let’s say that we won’t toil in vain
If we pull together we’ll never fall apart again”
“Honey For The Bees” is another really strong track with some brilliant production. It’s a song that I could listen to for the instrumental version alone although Moyet does deliver a defiant vocal which contains some excellent harmonies. Moyet is such a strong vocalist and controls every aspect of this one.
“Every time you feel like holding back
I’m gonna pull you deeper
Always straying from the beaten track
And I will be the reaper”
“For You Only” sees the album takes it’s first dip in tone as Moyet sings over a minimal backing tune in the same vain as her hit with Yazoo “Only You”. The content of the song is a tired subject of not wanting to be lonely.
“And always slipped away before I had the chance to say
If I did something wrong please tell I’d accept the blame”
“Invisable” is a gorgeous song and Moyet absolutely smashes this one. Her vocal control is impressive and again she shows so many different aspects of her voice in one song. She conveys the message of the song in a really soulful way and you really believe what she is saying.
“Invisible – I feel like I’m invisible.
You treat me like I’m not really there
and you don’t really care.
I know this romance
it ain’t going nowhere.
Invisible just like my love. You treat me like I’m invisible.”
“Steal Me Blind” starts off as if we are going to get a cover of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”. The song is about friends taking advantage of the relationship with her and offering her no emotional support when she has been there offering hers when they needed it.
The centre piece of “Alf” revolves around one song. It’s one of Moyet’s most famous tunes and you’ll still probably here it on radio stations today. The version on the album is here in it’s full epic 6 minute glory. “All Cried Out” sees Moyet go from pleasant pop singer to something completely else. The voice and the way she uses it over such a bitter and sad song is so very emotive.
“So don’t look surprised
There was no disguise
You knew where I stood from the start
Look around you
You’re right back where I found you
Take back your cold and empty heart”
“Money Mile” is a departure from the album’s familiar strong structure. The verse in this song is Moyet almost chanting her lyrics in this almost out of breath way. The production from Jolley & Swain is almost identical to a massive hit they produced for Spandau Ballet “Gold”. The drums are clearly the same but this doesn’t take away from a song that was needed to freshen up the album.
Despite the title, the most ‘fun’ song on the album is probably “Twisting The Knife”. It’s tune is light and airy with a kicking bassline which gives the song some groove. It’s certainly the funkiest song on the album and a real snapshot of the time.
The album finishes with “Where Hides Sleep“. This track has a slow build up with the words “Where Hides Sleep” being chanted in a choir style. The song is about suffering from insomnia. It’s a simple concept but Moyet shows again that she can sing any type of song and the producers have done well to layer her voice and give it this deeply relaxing element despite us knowing that she can be the powerhouse also.
Many compare Adele to Alison Moyet but that is because they are both white and large. Let’s not pretend this isn’t the case. Their musical styles holds not comparison and Moyet has shown on this album that lyrically she is not a broken women – she is a woman who will rise up and songs like “Love Resurrection” and “All Cried Out” show this even from their titles.
“Alf” is about a woman in the real world dealing with issues such as feeling invisible and being let down by friends. But she isn’t wallowing in self pity and there feels as though there is a way forward instead of a blank space in front of her.
Oh and that voice is fucking incredible.