The existence of ALA.NI is absolutely baffling, in the best possible way. Here’s someone who sounds like she’s dropped out of the 40s, blissfully unaware of the modern cacophony of pop, and yet somehow it sounds like the most refreshing thing in an age. More to the point – and something we realised after speaking to the very switched-on artist herself – it never feels incongruous or affected, never kitsch or a gimmick.
You & I is, essentially, a love letter from a time capsule. It strips things back to the essentials of piano- and guitarette-driven melodies, of smoky jazz lounges and chanteuses lighting up a metropolis. These are love songs in the very traditional sense, the Ol’ Fashioned Kiss a long-forgotten sensation, Come To Me a gently swaying slow-dance in the black-and-white of old Hollywood.
By all rights, it’s a record that shouldn’t work in 2016. But it does because of its ALA.NI’s earnestness and evergreen delivery. Most of the songs clock under the three-minute mark and seem so authentic that it’s hard to believe they’re not cover versions. But that’s the beauty ALA.NI brings to the game, in that she’s not playing it at all – instead we come to a fully-formed artist immersed in her own dreamlike world. We buy into the stories of One Heart, we allow ourselves to be swathed in the charm of Darkness At Noon. If you’re suckers for the Doris Day era like we are, there’s so much to love in You & I; even if you’re not, you’ll certainly find that time-travelling with ALA.NI delivers the richest rewards of a simpler time.