Opera Meets Soul | Alicia Waller & The Excursion: Some Hidden Treasure

Alicia Waller & The Excursion: Some Hidden Treasure
Journey through the Female Soul
(Innova Recordings / Feb 14, 2020)

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Multi-talented Alicia Waller is a New York City based soprano and composer and songwriter, and her focus is the female voice. She's a trained opera singer who grew up listening to pop and RnB vocalists like Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, and Anita Baker, and her work embodies all those influences

Some Hidden Treasure is her first release, including four original songs that explore various facets of American music with her operatic vocal instrument. She's worked with bassist and co-producer Marcos Varela along with the musicians that make up her band, The Excursion.

“When I went into this, I didn’t know exactly what was going to come out,” Waller states in a media release. “I just knew that I wanted it to sound ballsy and new. I wanted the voice to have a touch of classical and jazz, but the instrumentation to feel like soul music. I wanted it to sound like it came from the gut.”

The results are intriguing, a seamless fusion of all those threads into four tracks. The musicianship is superb, with her warm, rich soprano propelling the momentum. The lyrics are intriguing as well. Some Hidden Treasure is about falling in love with a friend, her big voice set against a languid groove and layers of piano and golden guitar lines.

Clouds is atmospheric and spotlights Waller's voice at its most beguiling - flexible and virtuosic, while making it all sound easy. The song adds strings and interesting percussion to the mix of instrumentation, swelling with her fluid voice.
Alicia Waller (image courtesy of the artist)
In Soul, the guitars have a dirty edge, and the drum kit is more prominent. It has more than a shade of classic Motown sound, building on a groove, but then breaking into a completely different rhythm...and then another. It mirrors the lyrics, which go through pursuing, then refusing, then getting seductive with a lover.

Just Step Back is a vocal tour de force, a slow, sexy, yet frenetic examination of how to leave a bad relationship.

The marriage of operatic vocals and American popular music genres isn't necessarily an easy mix; it requires a true understanding of both musical modes. Alicia Waller's debut release proves you really can have it all, along with a stylish and sophisticated sense of songwriting and composition that makes it memorable.