In the 2010s, Alicia Walter led criminally underappreciated Chicago band Oshwa, who played dizzying, dramatic math-rock with the finesse of a tween Mensa member simultaneously solving three Rubik’s Cubes. Walter moved to New York in 2016, the same year Oshwa released their final album, I We You Me, but her Chicago connections remain strong: this month, local indie label Sooper releases her dazzling solo debut, I Am Alicia. Walter’s rambunctious spirit unifies her wide-ranging stylistic journey and imbues every note of the album with freewheeling energy.
In a postgenre world, Walter gives all her material a distinctive common flavor with her high-wattage musical personality, even when her songs sound disjointed slotted next to each other. To pick just one wild transition, the “night out at a rowdy jazz lounge” amusement-park ride of “Who Am I” careens into the tight 80s pop-funk of “Suit Yourself,” where Walter contorts her showstopping voice into brawny shapes and reaches for high notes and striking trills with bawdy flair. She’s an exceptionally gifted vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, and on I Am Alicia she swings for the fences with all her might. The album is an impressively bold statement taken together, and plenty of its songs stand out on their own—in a just world, the effervescent “Standing at Your Doorstep” would be a bona fide pop hit.
Alicia Walter’s album I Am Alicia is available from Sooper Records.