Label: Bella Union Release date: 09/04/10 Website: Myspace Anyone familiar with Alessi Laurent-Marke’s charming and idiosyncratic Notes from the Treehouse album from last year will find plenty to like here. As much as the EP sounds like a stopgap than having had love and care invested in it, the tracks are diverting enough to keep anticipation of a new full-length bubbling away. ‘The Robot’ is a very pretty opener, recovering from an uncomfortably sudden start that’s a lot like walking in on someone half-dressed. Following on from this, ‘Dancing Feet’ is probably the most evolved composition on the EP, starting with delicate fingerpicked guitar before shuffling onward with sweeping electric guitar strums and blocky drums. Despite being more dramatic and dynamic however, it doesn’t quite match ‘The Robot’ for sheer memory-sticking sweetness. Next, the vague and demo-like atmosphere of ‘Shovelling’ is cute but far too brief and indistinct to make a lasting impression. ‘The Bird Song’ is another sketch, running out of proper ‘song’ in the middle and meandering to an improvised-sounding woodwind close. So by the conclusion we’ve had a track that’s too sombre, one too playful, one structurally unsound and ‘The Robot’ ‘just right’, Goldilocks-alike. Here’s the problem with Soul Proprietor, aside from its ostentatious name; it sounds more like a snapshot of a larger context of work rather than a standalone project. It’s almost literally a soundbite of an album, with the shortest track just over 1:30 and the longest a smidge over the three minute mark. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear these songs on the next Alessi’s Ark album in more fleshed-out incarnations; in fact I’d probably welcome it. Alessi fails to stamp her personality very firmly across the four tracks here, and so the EP comes off sounding just a little anonymous. It’s a little, hmm... Natalie Imbruglia. Anyone could be singing, it doesn’t really matter who; which wasn’t at all the case on Notes from the Treehouse. Alessi’s Ark operates in a comfortable middle ground between the sheer eye-twitching madness of Joanna Newsom and the mild manners of Laura Marling, whom Alessi has been supporting on tour this month. But since both Marling and Newsom released major new albums this year, Alessi might be drowned out to a great extent, pleasant though this EP is. Photobucket