Alison Fleming by Tony Lowe
|I first heard Alison’s voice -when she sent me two songs to record in the 80s. She was living in Manchester at the time and it wasn’t easy for her to travel down to London, so she asked me to sing them on the recordings. I did, but really wanted to hear her voice on them. It wasn’t till a year later that she came down to London to meet me and record some more of her material. By this time she had sent me quite a few basic recordings she had done at her home studio. There was something about the voice, a timbre and an emotional edge that was very different from anyone else I had heard. Years later, I started writing ‘All of the Above’ I was writing all the songs and the original idea was to have guest singers, including Alison, on some of them and I would sing others. I hadn’t been writing very long by myself and lyrics didn’t come easy. I approached Alison to have a think about the concept and send me some lyric ideas.She sent me about eight pages -which were all just a stream of consciousness. No song format just sentences and words that were inspired by the colour and mood concept. I’d never worked like this before but it was refreshing to think ‘outside the box’. I took phrases, added my own lyrics and worked up some song ideas. It was time to start recording some voice and I had gone off the idea of using different singers, preferring to just use our two voices for more of an overall vocal identity. I knew exactly the kind of approach I wanted for the vocal performances so I set about singing her voice parts using vari-speed to make my voice higher so it would be in her key. The amazing thing I discovered by doing this was that when you move the pitch of my voice up. I sound like her and we found the same thing the other way round. She sounds like me when her voice is lowered in pitch. Strange but true!
We continued throwing ideas around -and by this time I had written another six songs. We co-wrote ‘Spirit of the Physical’ and Alison contributed ‘Blue like the sky’ ‘No Answer’ and ‘My star and I’. A lot of the other material has lyrics that we worked on together. The original recordings were done on my old system using half inch analogue tape so the quality was not as good as we can achieve now. I was desperate to update the sound and get a final master for release. Alison is living in America now so we flew her out to re-record all her vocals on the new recordings. I am in the mixing mode on the material now and Alison sounds fantastic. I have had a few different vocalists record her songs and I have to say, it is never the same. - Tony Lowe
About Alison by String -The first time I heard ‘All of the Above’, it literally knocked me to the ground. The entire composition is a masterpiece. I love Alison’s writing and voice, which speaks me to as a woman and ranks in the top five of my favorite female voices.
Read more about Alison at her Biography on sunn creative.
Podcast Interview with Alison Fleming
Final photo courtesy of Madeleine Thour Photography