Editors' pick

Caroline County and Chelsea Lee


Editorial Review

Album review: "18 and Alive"

More than a year after it was recorded, McLean native Chelsea Lee's much anticipated debut album, "18 and Alive," has finally been released. And it lives up to the hype. Lee - who was discovered in New York's Rockwood Music Hall and signed to a multi-record deal with Atlantic - has a classic pop sound that rings clear as a bell throughout this collection of 12 tender yet assertive tunes.

Lee's songs are straightforward. Her lyrics are youthful, wistful even, avoiding those cheerleader/bleacher references (a la Taylor Swift) that really just make most of us feel old.

The arrangements are also no-frills. No blaring horn sections and minimal "doo-wops." The songs stand on their own as universally catchy anthems to being young and in and out of love. The best tracks include "Never Called It Love," "Perfectly," "Look in the Mirror," "Long Way Down," "You Got Me" and "Be Careful With My Heart." Oh, wait. That's most of the album.

Then there's the standout title track. Lee sings: "I want to be 18 and alive / Feel that way forever / Here and now / The years won't change." Lee might not be 18 anymore, but she does have an excellent album to show for those extra couple of years.

--Jess Righthand, Dec. 9, 2011