Ali Handal

Ali Handal

Ali Handal

Breathing Underwater

Dessert First Records

An unplugged album from an unknown artist?

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Ali Handal has a lot of balls for somebody who doesn’t have balls. Handal is indeed a woman, a looker I would say. But this record isn’t about being sexy; rather, listening to it is like talking on the phone in the middle of the night with a gal pal, her drunken loser boyfriend sleeping and snoring in the background. There are a number of times during the album when I feel like shouting, “Dump the jerk already!” Certainly, you’d think a woman as talented as Handal would deserve a better lover. Unfortunately, if these songs are autobiographical, she has experienced her share of Mr. Wrongs.

However, we feel for her because of the sincerity in her voice and the bluesy touch of her fingers on those acoustic strings. We fall for her as well, especially on “I Miss You,” which expresses feelings of sadness so palpable that you can taste her tears. When a loved one is gone, either through death or a broken heart, there is a silence that painfully hangs in the air. It speaks of an emptiness, and you can sense it in the ache in Handal’s vocals.

Thankfully, Handal extends her narrative to other personal topics, giving the album some variety. On “Ashes to Ashes,” her grandpa passes away, only to leave a dysfunctional family behind. Honest and powerful, that’s what you should expect from Handal.

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