Who I Am
I wanted to like Alice Peacock. I really did. The Chicago singer-songwriter has made a name for herself over the years opening up shows for cool folks like Aimee Mann. She had the talented Andrew Williams (Peter Case, Old 97’s) produce her latest disc. And she runs a non-profit group fighting illiteracy and seeking to renew interest in reading. I wanted to like Alice. But then I had to slog through nearly an hour of Who I Am.
Peacock has a breezy vocal style that on opener “Different From the Rest” recalls Sheryl Crow. Elsewhere it’s Shawn Colvin or Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls or Jonatha Brooke that springs to mind. Peacock sings about an ex who’s getting married: “I hope she loves you/ I hope she cares/ When you need someone to hold you/ I hope she’s there.” A few songs later on the equally breezy “Taught Me Well,” she’s thankful she didn’t marry the ex. On the next track she says of her ex: “In love is where you should be/ In love with anyone but me.” Does anyone detect a pattern here?
It’s not just Peacock’s repetitive lyrical themes though. “Here I Go Again” (no, not the Whitesnake song), co-written with Williams, sounds like a stale leftover from the Lilith Fair era. Williams has surrounded her with tasteful musicians and arrangements. There’s piano and a string section on most tracks along with the occasional French Horn. It’s all pleasant enough but doesn’t really leave much of an impression. It’s all just aural wallpaper.
And it doesn’t help that Peacock doesn’t really have anything interesting to say. The generic lyrics and irritatingly repetitive chorus of “Baby Come Back” (no, not the Player song) make you want to hit the skip button almost immediately. “Love” has some pretty melodic turns but nothing profound to offer on the subject. The equally generically-titled “Time” is a smoky ballad that someone like Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl might be able to make interesting. Unfortunately, Peacock is just not distinctive enough to rise above the throng of similar-sounding middle-of-the-road singer-songwriters.
She finally gives the hackneyed, repetitive lyrical themes a rest and delivers one of the disc’s prettiest melodies on the somewhat Beatles-esque “Sunflower.” But it’s too little, too late. When she sings on the title track “I don’t want to play your game/ That everyone should be the same/ I know who I am,” it’s an intended statement of purpose, but it rings a little hollow after nearly an hour of this stuff. Who I Am sounds like everybody… and nobody in particular.