The lights dim, the film starts to whir and on screen a statue sparkles before the title credits appear. Here we have Ala.Ni starring in You & I – a tale of love and heartbreak. The screen blurs and with a crackle of vinyl the sound of music plays and we are transported back to a beguiling bygone age.
Our heroine’s face fills the screen – she is singing of the beauty in the world around her, sitting under a Cherry Blossom. Petals are falling around her but she doesn’t mind – all she can think about is her love who she admires from afar. Even if the bloom of the cherry blossom only lasts for a couple of weeks she knows it will always come back. Such is the cycle of nature and love. The sweet hope in this song makes you feel like you could wait on your love forever and never even notice the seasons going by.
Then the first showstopper, where she’s dancing with her lover, through puddles maybe or over sofas. This is an Ol’ Fashioned Kiss, that is really hard to resist. It’s reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters a little but it’s not pastiche – there’s too much truth and honesty here. Ala.Ni’s voice is full of sweet personality like a modern Judy Garland or Doris Day. Kiss her quick, she’s going to be a star.
Come to Me is a short interlude, a moment sang to her beloved as though he’s walking past her. Suddenly takes things down, using the piano and the lower depths of her voice. The stars are falling but she’s willing to catch them all for her love.
On One Heart the truth is revealed: her love has another. As much as she longs to be connected to him, this is impossible. This love is only a dream. Such sad melancholy leads onto Roses & Wine, slowly bringing the tempo back up. Am I a fool? She asks herself. Of course everyone in love has this doubt. But in this case it’s true: he has a wife and therefore she knows that love is doomed.
Darkness at Noon sings of the end of the love affair. It builds slowly, with beautiful sighing vocals. She’s being cold hearted on the outside even though inside her heart is bright, despite everything. We agreed a life of misery, she sings but there’s a feeling that she wouldn’t change a thing.
To the River is the song at the end of the movie when you’ve lost your love, your dreams are destroyed, you’ve been down in the dirt but you’ve had your epiphany. We all go the river – we all feel the same heartbreak and pain. There’s no point in regret. We need to just enjoy the journey. Just get up and keep on dancing. Que Sera Sera.
The final song plays out as our heroine walks off into the distance. She’s smiling, dreaming of golden riches. Maybe her lover is lost forever but she knows she will love again soon. She sees her future and she’s not afraid. The end is here but she won’t despair. After all tomorrow is another day.
Of course you don’t need to be in a Hollywood movie to understand the message of these songs. The story on this album is more than just vintage kitsch. Some may find the vocal delivery mannered or the Jazz age style old fashioned but get past that and you realise the opposite is the case – there is a natural quality to the music which is unique and timeless.
You & I is one sweet old fashioned kiss that you really shouldn’t miss.