Alysha Brilla is a singer who gets it. Listening to her debut album In My Head makes me want to pick up a pen and write out the confused, hopeful, angsty feelings that tend to congregate whenever I think about relationships – past, present and future. She tells me that she understands. Yeah, she says, it’s rough when your crush literally does not know you exist (“In My Head”), or that it’s tough to decide not to let distance get in the way of love, despite the many (many, many,) uncertainties that come along with such arrangements (“Sailor’s Wife”).
But the Tanzanian-Canadian singer-songwriter also gets that from the bitter ruins of a lost relationship can come the promise of a stronger, sassier, more clear-eyed you who can revel in the fact that you’ve grown beyond the person you once thought you couldn’t live without, as she sings about in the mellow, sax-heavy “Never Gonna Get Me Back”. This particular track is a perfect post-breakup anthem in the best tradition of once-wronged songstresses everywhere, from Adele to Taylor Swift.
“Now that it’s over, and really over / I want you to know/ We had a lot to learn / We both had a lot of room to grow / But there is one thing, and one thing / and it’s bugging me/ You still have my dvds…/Well, I don’t cry no more/ And I no longer lose sleep/ I’m feeling pretty good/ I’m sorry your new girlfriend looks cheap!”
And then the chorus plays out the fantasy of every scorned lover:
“One day, you’re gonna see me / And I’ll be looking pretty dreamy / You’re never gonna get me back/ Oh, you’re never gonna get me, get me back/ One day, you’re gonna ditch her/ And you’ll want me back in the picture/ But you’re never gonna get me back/ Oh, you’re never gonna get me, get me back.”
But she also embodies the playful, light, flirty side of life. On “Nobody” she sings over a light, airy beat underlined with cha-chas and saxophone, “Oh, nobody’s gonna get me, nobody’s gonna get me, no way [x4] / Oh, nothing’s gonna bring me down, nothing’s gonna bring me down today…”
On “Lifted”, she celebrates the healing power of music:
“Somebody who feels just like you / is lying alone and crying for two / and wondering who / has been in their shoes / people, why am I singing the blues? / And yes you’re gonna feel bad / but music takes that away / so just put on the records you used to love / Cos you gotta get up, you gotta get up, you gotta get lifted…”
And then on “Sailor’s Wife” the cold reality of dealing with long distance love in a modern setting is matched to a slow, strummed-guitar calypso melody in what could be an incongruous way, but somehow works.
“I am not a sailor’s wife / I live a 21st century life / my heart ain’t the patient kind / but I will wait for you…/ I love you like a fat kid loves cake / But all I do is anticipate / And hungry, I stare at an empty plate till my brown eyes go blue…”
There are many more examples I could give to tell you why you should listen to the album, but really, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to. In My Head is a fantastic first offering from a talented new voice on the music scene, and you can be the first to say, “I knew her when…”
You can thank me later.
Alysha Brilla’s summer album release tour is going to be bringing her to Toronto on July 12, at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club, and a few other locations that can be found by checking her out at alyshabrilla.com, and she is also on Twitter as @abrillinger and on Facebook.