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ALA.NI: Tiny Desk Concert

The moment you get a look at ALA.NI behind the Tiny Desk, you'll notice it in the foreground: The singer asked us to record her set using her vintage RCA Ribbon microphone, which she carries around in a small briefcase between shows. It's a security blanket, a bit of visual branding, a statement of stylistic intent — and, not for nothing, a big reason ALA.NI's voice carries with such warmth and intimacy.

The microphone isn't the only element of ALA.NI's sound that seems to have been transported from another era. The London-born, Paris-based singer draws inspiration from her uncle, a British '20s and '30s cabaret star by the name of Leslie "Hutch" Hutchinson, and writes her own songs in the style of the standards he sang. You & I, her debut album, reverberates from the same spirit: It captures and conveys a reverent love of early-20th-century music, while injecting those sounds with charisma and charm well suited for any era. Here, she performs four songs from You & I, before closing her set with a heartwarming, crowd-aided "Happy Birthday" to her accompanist, Marvin Dolly.

You & I is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)


Set List

  • "Cherry Blossom"
  • "Ol Fashioned Kiss"
  • "Suddenly"
  • "Happy Birthday (To Marvin)"
  • Musicians

    ALA.NI (vocals, guitar); Marvin Dolly (guitar)

    Credits

    Producers: Bob Boilen, Niki Walker, Bronson Arcuri; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Tsering Bista; PA: Karen Gwee; Photo: Liam James Doyle/NPR.

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    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)