Doctoral candidate Ali Arant’s time at the University of South Carolina was brief, but the Deep South seems to have made quite an impression. Among the English courses she currently teaches at Wagner College in New York is “Growing Up in Dixie,” something that comes into play on her debut album, June July.
Recorded during her time in Columbia, the album was produced by local musician Darren Woodlief (of Pocket Buddha), who also played guitar and co-wrote several songs. It’s a pleasant listen that touches on folk, country and blues without succumbing to their well-worn cliches.
Arant’s vocals are intimate and effortless, lending the songs a gentle and hypnotic pulse that resembles how Nicole Atkins might have turned out if she had hung out more with her early tourmates, The Avett Brothers, instead of moving on to grander pop stylings.
“Don’t Be Sour” is especially Avetts-like, with banjo bustling brightly through the arrangement, but uncertainty still rears its head — “What we don’t let out will seep out,” Arant sings, “And I don’t fully understand / Why I don’t understand.”
Musically, there is no such lack of confidence as Woodlief and Arant pick their way nimbly through waltz-time meditations (“LiPo”), dirty, Jack White-style electric skronking (“How You Do It”), and the stately blues of the set’s only cover tune, “Trouble In Mind,” a tasteful retread of Richard M. Jones oft revived standard.
More inspired than studied, June July is a fit musical thesis for this professional academic — making it all the more disappointing that we can no longer count her among our local music faculty.
A Re-Imagined Christmas Carol at Trustus
Watch as five actors perform all the characters of Charles Dickens’ classic story and create a live musical score in a production that had audiences and critics raving last year. Get your tickets here!
Surreal Innovation Salon Now Open
Columbia’s newest total care spa is now taking appointments and offering $10 off services $25 or more for first time clients. Location, hours, and more info here.
Now Hiring in the Vista!
Hickory Tavern is opening mid-December and looking for bartenders, servers, hosts and kitchen staff. Apply in person: Click for details!
Great Gifts for the Whole Family
Don’t miss Half Moon Outfitters’ holiday sale! Up to 30% off Prana, Patagonia, The North Face, and other great brands. Location and hours here.
Going someplace cool this weekend?
Let The Backpacker help you go lightweight, comfortable and in style! Patagonia, Prana, Merrell, The North Face and more! Click for location, hours and more info.
Ice Skate on Main Street
Columbia’s famously hot skating rink opens Thanksgiving Day! Additional information and discounts can be found here.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Holiday Wish ListWhere to shop for gift ideas in Columbia this season: