What Tomorrow Brings
Release date: April 9, 2021
Label: Cellar Music Group
Daring and personal, What Tomorrow Brings is Chicago-based vocalist Alyssa Allgood's most sophisticated offering yet. Wielding her instrument with extraordinary nuance and depth, Allgood takes listeners on an introspective journey of growth and self-discovery in the form of eight refined interpretations of classics and four originals. Joining Allgood is a trio made up of Chicago’s finest including guitarist Mike Allemana, bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer George Fludas.
What Tomorrow Brings is Alyssa Allgood’s third studio release and reflects a couple years of tremendous growth for the vocalist. Allgood’s exciting new professional developments were heightened by the success of her previous album Exactly Like You (Cellar Live, 2018). Named “the vocal record of the year” by Chicago Jazz Magazine, the sophomore release propelled her to the upper echelon of great contemporary jazz vocalists, expanding her audience beyond Chicago from New York to Shanghai. Of course, the biggest change of all took place last spring, when the Coronavirus Pandemic changed life as we know it. “I’ve had a lot more time alone, getting to know myself better,” says Allgood: “Time to be outside, to read, and to deal with moments of change and loss. They’re all opportunities to grow closer to who we are.”
This time of soul searching is reflected on What Tomorrow Brings, the central message of which speaks to finding an openness to life’s challenges and developing the ability to embrace them as opportunities for growth and discovery. The selected repertoire has been ordered deliberately, giving listeners a strong narrative thread throughout that mirrors Allgood’s own personal journey. The substance of these songs reveal her deepening connection to life’s kaleidoscopic emotions, as she delves into the nuanced feelings of longing, regret, introspection, hope, courage, and love. “I hope the listener will feel the harder emotions at the beginning,” she says, “and then a shift about halfway through [right around the beguiling “Time Found” and “Bridges,” the haunting Milton Nascimento classic]. And then comes the sense that we’re getting into something uplifting – that even though what tomorrow brings is unknown, there’s still hope.”
Allgood takes inspiration from many of her musical idols including Abbey Lincoln, Dinah Washington, Carmen McRae, and Billie Holiday and particularly how they all funneled their considerable technique into making the words as meaningful as the melodies. Their example has steered Allgood toward greater nuance in service of storytelling. “I’m trying to make lyrical expression the focal point of what I’m doing,” she explains.
Highlights include “This Bitter Earth,” where she bends notes and commands the rhythm to etch each twist of the dark/light lyrics. In her duo version of “For All We Know,” her rain-pure timbre and heartbreaking inflections dovetail with Mike Allemana’s genius for accompaniment. On “Passing Glance,” Allgood uses her lovely control of dynamics to bring the song into subtle bas-relief before a high-flying coda.
As her interpretative authority continues to flourish, she needn’t shout to tell every story; she can also whisper. On another strong cut, the Eastern-tinged arrangement of “Mad About the Boy” she does both. With liberal phrasing and tonal flutters, Allgood lets you see a raised eyebrow here, a rueful smile there – and finally, with daring swoops into the upper register, a level of passion that juxtaposes the cool composure the lyrics strive to maintain.
Allgood works here with three of Chicago’s most in-demand and highly skilled musicians, all of them many years her senior, and she stands effortlessly with them in this compact, thrillingly interactive quartet. The intimate instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums lends itself well to the proceedings, and the atmosphere is enhanced by the strong musical connection, built on trust, between the musicians. “These musical relationships have opened up my connection to and expression of myself in performance,” explains Allgood, adding, “I sing, listen and create from an honest place and my voice has found strength in the openness I share with my band and my audience.” With this offering, Allgood marks a time of major artistic and personal growth, and welcomes listeners to come along on the engaging journey with her.
JAZZ HISTORY ONLINE
“..Allgood covers an enormous area of intimate territory, and she communicates those feelings with stark, heartfelt interpretations.” Read the full review here.
C. MICHAEL BAILEY
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"It is satisfying to hear this talent bloom and take command, Allgood assuming her proper place as one of the finest jazz vocalists today." Full review here.
“... this is a real jazz vocal set that capably mixes the old and new and is bottomed by vocals that really cover the jazz waterfront. Hot stuff for hot times.” Review here.
“While Allgood is in her twenties, she sings with a depth beyond her years.." Read the full review in the upcoming June 2021 issue of Downbeat Magazine
“...lyrics get the deserved attention from Alyssa Allgood; she projects intelligence." Read the full review here.
RAUL DE GAMA
THE WHOLE NOTE
"With this, just her third studio album recording, Alyssa Allgood declares that she is comfortable in her own vocal skin and has also raised her game to become an artist of the first order." Read the full review in the July/August 2021 issue of The Whole Note.