Lily Allen’s ragged, grassroots pop saves the day

By Emale Gray

While venturing through the South Side of Chicago, you can see the prevalence of crime, poor housing, and general feeling of restlessness. However, there is one girl that can look upon such dreary features and turn the world on with her smile.

Sporting angelic features and cheeky lyrics, British savior Lily Allen has what it takes to redeem the world of music from its sins. The Passion of this modern-day savior is a true Lifetime special-and-a-half. She never made friends while switching between over a dozen different schools before hitting the tender age of 15. After dropping out altogether, all she could depend on was her love of music. And that was enough to inspire A & R man George Lamb to introduce her to the wondrous life of a recording artist, proving that even after a life of disappointments, she was Alright, Still.

Using MySpace as her platform and her fervent self-promotional skills as her weapon of choice, Lily persistently baptized listener after listener and eventually cultivated her own exponentially growing fan club. Demos of songs such as “LDN” and “Knock ’Em Out” exemplified the unbridled talent Lily possesses and allowed her to finally produce an album that exudes more inspiration and encouragement than an episode of Oprah.

Alright, Still is simply the most original and creative musical endeavor an artist could offer. Where No Doubt failed at combining ska, rock, and calypso, Lily succeeds and even exceeds all expectations by keeping the whole of the album commercial, as well. Her simple voice teamed with her complex background environments are the perfect mix for those looking for “real music” in a day and age when most music is synthesized by the pack. “Knock ‘Em Out,” “LDN,” and “Smile” are jump-started and supported heavily by piano and horn samples, giving each an animatedly exuberant feel that is rarely if ever heard in current mainstream music.

“Oh, Jesus Christ Almighty,” Allen uncaringly states in “Everything’s Just Wonderful,” a track that sounds all too much like a Beach Boys b-side and transforms Lily into a 21st-century Mary Tyler Moore. Don’t let her delicate harmonies and Dating Game backgrounds fool you. In “Not Big,” she coyly fuses dainty piano runs and easygoing bass with one-liners such as “How would it make you feel if I said that you never ever made me cum” and “let’s turn back time to when you couldn’t get it up.”

One of the best moments on Alright, Still occurs upon listening to “Friend of Mine.” Sampling the Isley Brothers’ “For the Love of You,” Allen transforms a once placid song into one of the most promising and unintended tributes to Bob Marley and reggae music in general. Lily shines in the polka-influenced “Alfie,” a tribute to her lazy bum of a brother who spends the majority of his days smoking weed, playing video games, and “wasting his life away.” Lily’s premier ballad “The Littlest Things” further displays Lily’s virtuous voice, but this time it’s paired with contemplative backing vocals and melancholic piano playing. The success is evident in the fact that Allen takes this rainy day of a song and makes into an inspirational story of how one can triumph in love and life.

As an album, Alright, Still is a masterpiece, but as a debut for a young artist it is almost a saving grace to music. From start to finish Allen delivers hit after hit, all while staying true to herself. Can I get an amen?