Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Alison Sudol—or A Fine Frenzy—has had an album out for eight months (“One Cell in the Sea,” Virgin) and has already had her music on “One Tree Hill” and “House,” acted in “CSI: New York,” toured with Rufus Wainwright and been to Elton John’s Oscar bash. The day after the flashy rock icon played and sang inches away from her, we spoke on the phone.
“I was at home doing the dishes, just a normal Sunday night, and I got a call [asking if I wanted to go to the party],” Sudol says. “It went really well, I was like a little spaz, bumping into things. When Elton John was singing ten feet away it was like, ‘Whoa.’”
“One Cell in the Sea” is a surprising record, soulful, mostly piano balladry that’s deeper than what you would expect to hear from an L.A.-based 22-year-old. It’s a delicate record in all, some moments boldly haunting; plus, with the red hair, it’s difficult not to think of Tori Amos.
“To tell you the truth, I had no idea what to expect,” she says of the reception of the record. “It was just one of those great big unknowns. You hype certain things, but you never know really. In some ways, it seems like [my career] is moving at a normal pace—we did a little van tour, we did another tour that was slightly bigger, then we opened for Rufus—but when I look back and think where I was a year ago, it’s pretty wild.”
It could be expected that, after being thrown into even muted stardom, she might lose a sense of herself. “It could have [happened],” Sudol says. “I think the more that my life changes the more I feel I have to retain parts of me that I have had my whole life, you know, like being a spaz last night. I probably could at this point be more smooth. I don’t really want to be, though—I don’t want to be good at being a celebrity. I don’t want to get good at it. I feel like I might lose parts of me that are real, that people can relate to.”
She continues, charmingly, “I trip. I say silly things, I sometimes get tongue-tied. I get starstruck. I wouldn’t want to get good at being cool.” (Tom Lynch)
A Fine Frenzy plays March 12 at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, (773)525-2508, at 8pm.