Album review: "Always Want"
By Jess Righthand
Friday, Mar. 23, 2012
Australian singer Grace Woodroofe was discovered by the late Heath Ledger, who reportedly introduced her to Ben Harper, who in turn became her mentor and produced her debut album, "Always Want."
Woodroofe, whose voice is mesmerizing from beginning to end, is the latest in a cadre of soft, smoky-voiced indie artists such as Lana Del Rey and Lykke Li. The subtlety in her vocals is lovely, but her voice also packs a welcome punch. Every so often, she belts out the lyrics with astounding force, waking listeners from the trance induced by her otherwise-breathy performance. "I've Handled Myself Wrong" and "Oh My God" are two striking examples of her nuanced dynamism.
Harper's brand of rock is clearly apparent when Woodroofe diverges from the ballads in favor of such harder stuff as the sparsely poetic "Nocturnal" or the electro anthem "Bear." It raises the question of just how far Harper's influence reaches. In the end, though, that question isn't worth dwelling on. The album has a tasteful mix of highs and lows, taking the best of Florence and the Machine's high-strung mania and Del Rey's airiness and synthesizing them into a uniform, unique and ultimately pitch-perfect sound.