by Aldus Santos
“She sings like no one is listening,” Alessandra de Rossi once said of Alfa. Her AWOOO debut is, incidentally, also the unveiling of a new sound and direction.
Alfa has had a storied past decade. Despite a ravenously competitive landscape, her music has made it on-air, online, and on-screen across the US, gracing different mediums with her varied musicality.
Her global appeal reflects a sort of cultural remove from her roots: something which has been decidedly quashed when her first non-English single “Alindahaw,” which she sang in Visayan, broke through in a major way in 2020. After snagging top honors in the world category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, it’s also now vying for an Awit citation for Best Global Recording.
And the proverbial homecoming is far from over. Today, in fact, marks the release of Alfa’s debut single with AWOOO Records, the Alessandra de Rossi-helmed record label which the actress unveiled in late September.
The song in question, “Every Word You Say,” is a stunning bit of campfire-meets-coffeeshop synth ballad that has an equally painful lyrical theme.
Written during downtime while housesitting for a friend, the song was willed into being after Alfa binge-watched the British dramedy Fleabag. “I was taken in by the story and the idea that you could be massively in love with [a person] but still make a choice not to continue that love because of stronger forces.”
From a barebones demo featuring rough vocals and violin (Alfa is classically trained on strings) the track in its present form has the weight of transformative, intelligent pop: lush and layered, generous in sentiment but sublime in sentimentality, heart-on-sleeve yet calm and composed. “It’s a new sound for me, but one that I’ve been wanting to create for a long time,” Alfa shares, adding, “I wanted to bring in more of my violin-playing and bring out a percussive, groove-driven edge.”
“Dreaming out loud what I knew could never happen / Dreaming out loud so I could stare down my demons,” she sings in the pre-choruses, and the listener gets swathed in both her hypnotic pipes and the shimmering sonics courtesy of collaborator and co-producer Carl Thomson.
Whereas her well-loved pre-AWOOO material depended almost solely on the intimacy her voice offers, this time around she is exploring moods, rhythms, and vibes enabled by adventurous musicianship and nuanced studio craft. The result, as evidenced on “Every Word You Say,” bodes well for the talented singer-songwriter.
“Her musicality is poetic and cinematic, and you sense it in her breath, in the instrumentation, in everything,” label head Alessandra de Rossi—who previously heaped praise on Alfa’s vigorous knack for “singing like no one’s listening”—says of the musician’s AWOOO debut.
“Maybe she’s thought about it a great deal, or maybe it’s magic. Whatever it is, I think it’s gold.”