In the five years since she graduated, singer/songwriter Allette Brooks, ’96, has chalked up hundreds of performances at folk festivals, coffeehouses and clubs across the country. But she still comes back to campus to record at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics.
Brooks’s latest CD, Swim with Me (www. allettebrooks.com), is her third. Her self-described “folk music for the Internet generation” is hard to pigeonhole. Songs range from wry social commentary to self-discovery. “Some call us Americans/I call us energy hogs,” she sings in “Rolling Blackout,” a jab at California’s energy crisis. “Driving” expresses the musings of a conflicted environmentalist who knows her tour van isn’t earth-friendly. There’s more than a little of the romantic in Brooks, though. The single borrowed piece in this collection is, of all things, a sweet, slightly jazzy rendition of “Loverly” from My Fair Lady.
Brooks’s classically trained voice is strong and confident, yet pleasantly inviting. Her lyrics are sometimes opinionated, sometimes cryptic, but always engaging. She plays acoustic guitar throughout (she learned during her junior year in Botswana), accompanied by electric slide guitar, bass, piano, drums, violin, cello and backup singers on different tracks. But most of all it is her expressive voice that drives forward, delivering humor, triumph, sadness or wonder with each note.
The title track is also an invitation. “If only you would/come on in/and have a swim with me,” Brooks sings. Once you’ve dived in, you might not want to come out.
—Josh Fried, '01