Ali Handal – That’s What She Said (2017)

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Ali Handal’s fourth album That’s What She Said (now out on Red Parlor Records) says plenty about this girl rocker who pulls no punches even while she spins out tightly constructed songs.

Occupying a space roughly between Melissa Etheridge and Bonnie Raitt with the bluntness of Ani DiFranco, Handal’s a confessional singer-songwriter in a world overflowing with them but she stands above the pack with her rather good guitar playing and a bevy of attitude. By the time the album ends gracefully with the astral “Last Lullaby,” there’s a strong sense of knowing this artist personally well.

That includes expecting more from the opposite sex (“You Get What Settle For”, “Better Man”), living life as a free spirit (“Smoke More Pot,” “Let “Go”) and brandishing a sharp wit as she expresses a love for felines with the double entendre-loaded “I Love My Pussy.Cat” and a disdain for parenthood in “Thank God For Birth Control.” She also digs Led Zeppelin: in addition to the Zep riff that ends “You Get,” there also a pretty faithful cover of “What Is and What Should Never Be” that fits in well with the Handel’s overall vibe and adds an nifty acoustic slide feature.

It’s not just about personality, but how it’s carried out: That’s What She Said is full of movement-inducing swagger wrapped up in a rootsy getup putting together ample grooves, nervy guitar licks, no-bullshit lyrics and a sassy vocal. From the funky shuffles found on tunes such as “The World Don’t Owe You A Thing” and “Everybody’s So Naked,” to the powerful backbeat of “I’m Not A Pretty Girl” and the softened soul on a “Landslides” styled ballad “Enough For Me,” Handal shows plenty of range in moods.

That’s What She Said is a great way to get to know the multi-talented Ali Handal. And once you get to know her, you’re bound to like her.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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