On It’ll Be Alright Evan Bethany and producer Greg Laswell have created a perfect alchemy of intimacy and brawn. Bethany’s voice slides through these radio-friendly rock songs like honey off a hot spoon, bringing sweetness to the hardedged frames that Laswell creates. This is a fine example of artist and producer melding together so that you don’t know where one ends and the other begins.
Laswell wrote most of the songs and lyrics and plays most of the instruments, so this album sounds more than a little like his excellent release Through Toledo (San Diego Troubadour Vol. 5, No. 11). That the albums came out weeks apart further re-enforces this impression. But the real story here is Evan Bethany. She sings with a confidence and sincerity rarely found in new artists. You feel how much she trusts herself and her material. With ease and a weary innocence she sinks back into the warmth of each song, making it impossible not to fall in love with her. Bethany sagely avoids the common pitfalls: No annoying vocal gymnastics. No annoying being-different-just-to-be-different. No hey-mom-look-at-me precociousness. Just truth and power rendered without apology and without false pretense.
From the opening roar, Bethany and Laswell really know how to create the mysterious dance between tension and release. Each verse leads enticingly to a satisfying chorus. As you turn this record up loud, I defy you to not be sucked into the dizzying soundscape. None of the stellar musicianship and studio mastery would mean a thing, however, were it not for the humanity and honesty of Bethany’s soulful yet suburban appeal. Like that cool Boho poet chick you remember from English class, Bethany surprises you with her depth once you get past the carefully cultivated, nothing-special veneer. Part intellectual, part mystic, part girl next door, she’s smarter than you but smart enough not to let you know it. The more you see, the more you want to see. It’s dizzying not to know what’s going to happen next and profoundly nurturing to turn over the control. Bethany accomplishes what every artist dreams of: to send you away down unnamed streams until you wash up on the shore of the warm ocean from which all truths emerge. You don’t know how you got here, and you don’t know where you are, but you’re clean and it feels like home.
The San Diego Music Awards has nominated Bethany for Best New Artist this year. Whether she wins or not, Bethany is clearly at the lead of a new crop of amazing San Diego talent. Either way, it’ll be alright.