Malena Zavala – Aliso

Anderson Island beach

Like a short, perfect novella, “Aliso” is like a little world with a defined vibe, one that Malena Zavala creates and explicates over the course of 10 songs. When I wrote about “Should I Try” before, I mentioned that there’s something old-fashioned about Zavala’s songwriting, not so much that the songs sound old or passé, but more in the way they’re constructed. It seems to me like the songs have a quality of classic craft–even though I can’t quite pinpoint what that is technically–they’re sturdy and reliably beautiful and hummable; they unfold in a way that highlights her fantastic voice and her melodies. “A Vision That’s Changed,” like “Should I Try,” starts quiet and small, unsteady, and expands and brightens in the last third; almost all the songs on this album move, change, evolve. It’s a great listen.

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