A Fine Frenzy is not a band. It's a phrase from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and is also the stage name used by Alison Sudol, a 22 year-old singer-songwriter. Born in Seattle, the red-haired, self-taught pianist is now based in Los Angeles. A couple of years ago, Virgin Records CEO Jason Flom discovered her musical abilities. Sudol has had no lack of public spotlight this summer. She was designated "the prettiest girl in indie-rock" by the Gen Art Pulse newsletter. She opened for Rufus Wainwright earlier this summer and she's currently touring with Brandi Carlile.
One Cell in the Sea is Sudol's debut album. Released on Virgin in July, it's a compilation of dreamy folk pop, 14 songs of her pretty, haunting singing matched with her spare piano playing. Sudol's voice is sweet without being whiny. Her vocals come through as confident and strong, a nice fit for her light and dreamy songs about love and self-discovery. Though there is no title song on this album, "The Minnow & the Trout" incorporates the title phrase. About to be eaten, the minnow pleads, "Please, I know that we're different / We were one cell in the sea in the beginning / And what we're made of was all the same once / We're not that different after all."
One Cell in the Sea is full of well-crafted three-to-five-minute tunes. Unfortunately, most of the tunes are quite similar. If there's anything Sudol's debut CD lacks, it's variety.