Alexis P. Suter Band: Be Love Review

There’s nothing subtle about Alexis P. Suter. On Be Love, she uses her powerful voice to own every track. She’s backed by a talented band, but Suter’s vocal talents are impossible to ignore.

Suter has a strong, deep voice. It resonates. You almost feel it in your chest before you hear it in your ears. She’s also not afraid to use that vocal strength. There’s a lot going on behind her instrumentally, but she always manages to stand out without having to resort to devious front-person tricks, like lowering the band in the mix. Nope, Suter seemingly invites her band to try and bring her down and then successfully fights everyone off.

To get a sense of Suter’s power, all one has to do is listen to “Lips, Hips and Fingertips,” a 50s-inspired number that starts at a 10, energy-level wise, never really building. But unlike a lot of less talented singers who start out songs at a fever pitch, rather than letting things unfurl organically, Suter’s immediate intensity sounds more like something she can’t help. It’s who she is. And it works for the song, which features horns, gorgeous guitar riffs, and celestial background vocals. The production is dense, but instead of feeling overwhelming, it just feels cozy.

Suter explores a number of musical styles on the album. “Little Black Rider” is an acoustic blues shuffle and “I Don’t See You Anymore” is soul. The album isn’t about genre so much as it’s about performance. Suter spent a lot of time opening for the Band’s Levon Helm and it’s easy to understand why the two artists were drawn to each other. They both share voices that can’t be contained and that will always take over a song. And they both share a love for the song that isn’t about sticking to a certain style, but rather to performing (and writing) in whatever style you’re taken. It makes Be Love pass quickly, since there are so many different kinds of songs.

As good as Suter is, she’s not a perfect match for every genre. “Go,” a slow tune with a beautiful melody and lovely bluesy slide guitar, isn’t a great match for her voice. While the song, written by backup vocalist Vicki Bell, is sweet and pretty, Suter’s voice is just too big and weathered for the track. But hearing it tells you everything you need to know about Suter, who’s not afraid to take chances, even if they don’t pan out.

The album ends with a “I Just Got Off that Devil’s Train,” a Wally Fowler gospel song performed more like a jazz blues, with piano, acoustic guitar, and vocals from Carrie Suter, Alexis’ 96-year-old mother. It’s a sweet track and indicative of the energy of the album, which is familial. The album is produced by Suter, Bell, Michael Louis (who also handled the beautiful guitar work on the album, as well as some of the bass) and Ray Grappone (drummer/percussionist). That Brooklyn-based quartet, working in various permutations, also wrote most of the songs on the album. Be Love feels like a family affair and while Suter’s vocal power cannot be ignored, her performances are enhanced by a-just-as-talented band.

The Review: 9.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Lips, Hips, and Fingertips
– I Don’t See You Anymore
– Hit or Miss
– Empty Promises
– Be Love

The Big Hit

– Be Love

Review by Steven Ovadia

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK


Steven Ovadia

Steven Ovadia interviews blues artists about their songwriting process for Working Mojo.

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