Alison James’ single How Do You Know begins and grows further into its role as the refreshingly original pop song the longer it plays out for. The opening moments have a simple familiarity about them, granted the ambiance feels much more family-film-like than modern pop, still the melody leans in a rhythmically comforting direction. All of this kind of falls away though when the song’s hook hits.
What a moment. How Do You Know Until You Know is a superb line, the melodic switch and the change to a major key – the sudden brightness, the freely meandering piano – everything about this moment shines beautifully. The entire experience becomes something else once the chorus has rolled through even just once.
The second verse draws your focus to the lyrics much more intently – you want to know the details, you want to hear about these intricacies and this story-line. There’s a certain vagueness to the hook or the central idea that lets it be widely accessible to any and all listeners, but there are subsequent flickers of detail afterwards that make this a much more personal and revealing tale; belonging solely to the artist behind it. This kind of openness is incredibly appealing, it reaches out to connect in a pure and honest way. The whole song has this same vibe throughout and you realise it more and more so as the song approaches its end.
Alison James has offered up some part of herself and her life that you don’t come across all too often in pop music. Even the musicianship reinforces this – the organic make-up, the delicacy. With each new listen you want to hear a little more, which you can – there’s poetry and intimacy alike. A refreshing single, absolutely worth a listen.