Alison May
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Alison May

Oakland, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter




"If Friends Play Your Songs, They Just May Change Your Tune"

Alison May


Folk rock guitars wash over Alison May’s voice throughout her album “Loved/Dark” (Misery Loves Company): picked, strummed, twanged, ringing, floating, crisply acoustic or glimmering with reverb. Intricate and enveloping, they’re often on the verge of inundating her gauzy, unemphatic voice — but just on the verge. The music parallels the way the narrators in her cryptic songs find themselves swallowed up in overwhelming situations, facing regrets, separations, irreparable losses and sometimes imminent death: “I cannot be followed/I’m going to the other side now,” she sings in “Jon,” possibly after being struck by lightning. She’s a humble figure in a larger landscape — but the landscape is her creation, too, and she holds her place within it. - Jon Pareles - The New York Times

"Alison May - "Loved/Dark""

Through a delicate exhibition of Americana and folk, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Alison May produces quite a mature sound that may just play with your heartstrings. The Texas-born musician—who made the move to Oakland in 2012—has flown very much under the radar so far, shyly releasing her debut LP Earnest Keep in 2013 without much to do.

Her latest album Loved/Dark although beautifully soft, certainly seems poised to send tremors up and down the indie world. The standout track is “Loved/Dark,” a soothing slice of narrative songwriting with the tenderness of a teenage journal entry. As May’s voice ripples wonderfully over light percussion and the simple plucking’s of her guitar, it’s hard not to feel impassioned by the gentle, solemn style she embodies. Have a listen below. - Pigeons & Planes

"Listen: Alison May - "Loved/Dark""

​Alison May is a songwriter who quietly debuted with her first LP, Earnest Keep, in the beginning of 2013, receiving praise for her multi-instrumentalist skills and Americana/folk-like leanings.

May has now released her second album, Loved/Dark; the fruits of a move to Oakland and the result of a more patient and meticulous approach to her song craft. The album is an array of thick brushes of oil paint over immaculate canvases, sounding untamedly earthy yet quietly refined. If the first extract “Raft” displayed May’s ability of layering an intricate upbeat composition into the confines of non-electronic instrumentation, her follow up, the title track “Loved/Dark”, explores a janglier May who is limited to the use of her own acoustic guitar.

Sounding purely American, the rough guitar repeats a melody of soothing melancholy and hopefulness - May’s voice sounding affected by experience and modelled on her travels and time. It’s a simply beautifully arranged track and is currently available via her BandCamp. - The Line of Best Fit

"Alison May gets experimental on Loved/Dark"

Alison May is a Texan who has lived in Oakland for a couple years now, and she credits her new home with pushing her music in a more experimental direction. The result is her sophomore album, Loved/Dark, a subtle, dark, beautiful collection of dreamy folk songs that just premiered over on Wondering Sound.
As a bonus, here’s May covering Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”, which is just such a great choice on her part that I thought it deserved special recognition: - The Bay Bridged

"Track of the Day - Alison May - "Loved/Dark""

They’re funny aren’t they? Those little cycles of listening that we go through. Up until yesterday I was fully entrenched in all things emo-rock and not in the mood for listening to anything else, and then along came Alison May and side-swiped me with her quietly beautiful ‘Loved/Dark‘. I think it was something to do with the graininess of that guitar and how it sits perfectly alongside her always-captivating vocal; the faithful companion to the more glamorous hero, a shadow that never leaves her side.

The track is take from May’s also-wonderful new twelve-track full-length album (of the same name, incidentally), which has just been released through Bandcamp and is available for download here. On first listen it’s a veritable treasure trove of soft, affecting folk songs and we highly recommend you check it out. Start below: - Goldflakepaint (Edinburgh)

"Songwriter Alison May to release second LP"

Oakland-based singer-songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Alison May cites Nick Drake as one of her influences, and you can really tell. I hear a little Belle & Sebastian/Sea & Cake in her delicate instrumentation as well. That’s not to take away from her talent as a vocalist and musician: she played almost every instrument on her album. Originally a drummer, Alison was compelled to venture into strings after spending lots of time with her father, who would play songs like “Pink Moon” and “Telling Stories” (Tracy Chapman). Her second LP, “Loved/Dark,” comes out next week on July 29th. For another taste of her music, check out her video “Raft” here on Vimeo:

Keep up with her on Twitter here: - The Loop LA

"Alison May comes into her own on sophomore LP ‘Loved/Dark’"

Oakland, Calif-based, Texas-bred singer/songwriter Alison May comes into her own on sophomore platter “Loved/Dark.” This dynamic 12-track gathering of psychedelic folk builds on the promise of May’s 2013 “Earnest Keep” debut and finds her continuing to be pretty much a one-woman show in the recording studio.
May handles the drums, vocals and guitars on “Loved/Dark,” which gets off to an eerily effective start with instrumental opener “No Pictured, But Present.” May later scores with “My Own Good,” “Bad Timing,” “Ophelia,” the title track and “The Fountain.” Keep an eye on this up-and-coming talent. (Jeffrey Sisk) - Pittsburgh in Tune

"Album Premiere: Alison May, Loved/Dark"

Alison May writes electric folks songs that are often far more devastating than their warm disposition suggests. “On Going” is backed by shakers and fingerpicked acoustic guitars, and starts with, “Yes, I’m aware that my home is burning/ But, I will rearrange the sofas anyway/ To appear as though I’ve had company,” the last word sung with a lilt like Joanna Newsom. “Helen” is about a miscarriage: “Helen died, hours before she was to be breathing/ All her things placed inside a storage unit/ Everyone had so been looking forward/ To a moment they would try not to remember,” May sings, before the ringing of electric guitars kick in.

In tracks like “Ophelia” and “10 x 2,” when her sadness isn’t hidden in its contradictory surroundings, May is reminiscent of Julie Doiron or Angel Olsen — in the latter song she uses reverbed guitars as she sings, “I’ve made a habit of/ Holding on to those I find myself the least able to love.” Her breathy voice often dips and slurs like Jolie Holland; that and the richly layered instrumentation are gorgeous, thankfully without taking the edge off the sting of her lyrics.

Love / Dark is out July 29 via Misery Loves Co., but you can stream it in full below. - Wondering Sound

"Alison May: Unafraid"

If one word were to be used to sum up Alison May’s sophomore effort, it should be “unafraid.” The perfectly titled Loved/Dark has the Oakland-based, Texas-born songwriter exploring her vulnerabilities and passions in equal measures. The album’s aesthetic does reside in the darkness more often than not, but it also boasts a warm and intimate humanness that is ultimately actually comforting. May is also unafraid of exploring her own, personal variations on all of her musical loves from the currently popular, to the classic American songwriters, and even electronic music. Loved/Dark is due out July 29th on Misery Loves Co. Records and just yesterday Alison premiered her official video for “Raft” on The Wild Magazine. She also recently took some time to chat with me about her move to Oakland, the writing and recording of her latest album, and her relatively unique approach to touring… oh, and there’s even a little talk about Coldplay.

Izzy Cihak: In recent years I’ve interviewed a ton of artists from the Bay Area that are really cool. What are your thoughts on the local music and arts scene?

Alison May: I love the diversity and support that comes along with being a part of the Oakland arts community. There’s a big crew of folks working hard to further their craft and pushing each other to up their game. I am a huge fan of the work that Oaktown Indie Mayhem is doing. They put on shows of all musical genres, but also put together dance battles, forums, and art shows. They’re great folks who are doing wonders to boost the arts of all kinds in Oakland.

Izzy: You’re about to release your sophomore effort, Loved/Dark. How do you feel it compares to your debut?

Alison: The biggest difference between the two records is patience. We gave ourselves more time in the studio, more time to edit, more willingness to scrap and start over. I also wanted to make this album more diverse. I wanted to have psychedelic moments, folk moments, rock moments, angry moments. I had a broader scope of ideas to convey, so it was a journey trying to capture them all.

Izzy: What do you consider to be the album’s most significant influences, both musical and otherwise? Your taste would seem to be admirably across the board.

Alison: Most of the album was written in 2012. I spent most of that year listening to electronic artists like Clark, Bibio, and Andrew Bayer. In addition, I was listening to a lot of incredible guitar players like Duncan Browne and Brooke Miller. I think I took small notes from all of them. The album was written in the midst of my move from Austin, TX to Oakland, CA. My first summer in Oakland shifted a lot of my personal focuses. I thought more about my family. I also was able to focus on overcoming a lot of anxiety, performance and otherwise. I think that was reflected in the writing.

Izzy: Do you have a particular favorite album track? “On Going” really stands out to me for some reason. It’s just the perfect kind of epic, rollicking Americana (Hopefully that’s not insulting.)

Alison: I have two favorites. I love “My Own Good” because we really pushed ourselves on the production and arrangement of that song and came out with what I think is a badass psych/folk song. My other favorite is “Bad Timing”. I love that recording because I feel it adequately captured the heavy emotions I was feeling when writing it. Calling “On Going” epic, rollicking Americana is certainly not insulting. That’s what we were going for.
Izzy: So I saw on your Tumblr you recently defending Coldplay against Pitchfork. I was a bit surprised that you would seem to be a fan of the band but, when I stopped to really listen, a lot of your balladry echoes of a more stripped version of theirs’. I haven’t listened to them in over a decade, but I was a big fan of their first two records, back when I was in highschool (back when they toured with Ash and the likes), so I’m inclined to ask if there are any Coldplay songs that you find to be especially poignant or inspiring? “Everything’s Not Lost” was one of my “top songs of all-time” for a number of years.

Alison: I have no shame in the fact that I am a big Coldplay fan. Parachutes captivated me as an adolescent. I still listen to it more than I should. But, the statements I made on my blog were not so much defending Coldplay’s music as they were shaming Pitchfork for their scrutiny of Chris Martin’s personal life. They seemed to be writing an article for TMZ, rather than focusing on the music. Artists strive to have a mention in Pitchfork. Fans look to Pitchfork for credible recommendations, as do I. I’m not interested in their thoughts on Martin’s love life or their opinions of Gwyneth Paltrow’s hand cream. Music reviews shouldn’t be an outlet for ridicule of anything other than the music. If Pitchfork hates my album, it would be an honor to hear them say so. If they hate my haircut, they can keep that to themselves.

Izzy: You recently played a bunch of shows across the country. What were the highlights of this recent tour?

Alison: I really wanted to focus on doing more house shows for this tour. I think they’re a great way to connect with the audience and make friends. We’ve experienced a lot of generosity from strangers. My favorite show so far has been in Ft. Collins. We had a great time performing in a community garden, next to their goats, chickens, and puppy dog, with a thunderstorm in the background. That show was pretty epic!

Izzy: What do you have planned for the second half of 2014? Any chance we might get to see you out on the East Coast?

Alison: I’m headed back to Oakland to focus on the west coast for the month of July. I’m really looking forward to our album release show on 7/29 at Awaken Cafe in Oakland (by way of the folks at Oaktown Indie Mayhem). For the month of August, I’ll be taking part in an Americana/Folk residency in Aspen, for which I will be playing drums. When I’m not playing those shows, I’ll be booking as much as I can in Colorado. For the months following, I’ll be touring as much as I can. I’ll certainly be repeating my Colorado/New Mexico/Texas route with hopes of adding the East Coast afterward. I’ll be keeping busy! There’s nothing I love more than playing music in different cities nightly, so I’ll do whatever it takes to keep that up for as long as I can.

Izzy: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat and hopefully we’ll get to see you soon.

Alison: Thank you! I’ll certainly let you know when I’m out your way! - Philthy Mag

"Exclusive Song Premiere: Alison May's "Helen""

She’s a traveling woman. Like any touring singer-songwriter, 23-year-old Alison May has become quite the road warrior, even once traveling by Amtrak to see eclectic DIY houses across the country. Yet it was May’s recent move from her native Texas to Oakland, California that truly set her on the right path, padding her narrative folk songs with a psychedelic swirl and dark energy that make them more evocative than ever. From her upcoming album Loved/Dark, out July 29, check out the track “Helen,” a dynamic ballad that could start a war inside. - Buzz Magazine

""Raft" by Alison May"

With the craze related to Bon Iver's new song, while we patiently wait for a SoundCloud link to appear, I think I'm about to show you something equally good!

I found Alison May's art the other day and the subtle acoustic sounds immediately inked in my heart. It just radiates peace and... a feeling which makes you feel home. The young singer/songwriter is also playing all the instruments on her album (including drums!) - a pure talent! I hope "Raft" brings you the same joy as it does to me. - Stereofox

"Alison May / Raft [Premiere]"

Alison May debuts “Raft,” the first single ahead of her forthcoming LP, Loved/Dark. It’s May’s sophomore record, but we’re told that the compositions are the first to provide a true snapshot of the singer songwriter. After departing her Texas home for the West Coast, folk sounds took on a furthered experimental bend as the 23-year-old multi-instrumentalist developed musically through the new album. Shot in Oakland, California by director Taylor Rankin, “Raft” sees May filmed in double-exposure, juxtaposing physical presence while being somewhere else entirely. - The WILD Magazine

"Guitar World - Track of the Day"

Track of the day - Guitar World - Acoustic Nation


Earnest Keep LP - January 21, 2013
Loved/Dark LP - July 29, 2014



Alison May is a folk singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who has been performing, writing and recording out of Oakland, CA since relocating from Texas in 2012. Her change of scenery seemed to awaken a more layered and experimental side, which is carefully captured in her sophomore release, Loved/Dark. The album is set for a July 15th release on Misery Loves Co., and the first window into the album is captured in the first single "Raft," available now via Soundcloud.

Her home town of Waxahachie was about an hour’s drive from anywhere. This meant she spent a lot of time in the car with her father, listening to artists like Jackson Browne, Nick Drake and Tracy Chapman. She was only a drummer at the time, but songs like Telling Stories, Pink Moon and The Pretender made Alison want to wander out of the rhythm section. This desire bred Alison into not only a singer/songwriter, but a recording artist who would play almost every instrument for her albums, creating an exact replication of her imagined arrangements.

Alison started tracking without any prepared arrangements and instead opted to let each track speak through experimentation. Ultimatley she found the right instrumentations, making Loved/Dark the result of patient layering and wild guesses as to what would fulfill the potential of each song. The album includes guests George Weber (vibraphone), whose mysterious bowing techniques are notable in both "Raft" and other album cut "My Own Good."  Alison's debut album, Earnest Keep, worked without any bass parts but,Loved/Dark needed a touch of girth from the presence and playing of Michael Jude. The patience of producer/engineer Jeff Price (ex-Mornin' Old Sport) was perhaps the greatest contribution to the record, rolling with the punches and staying in the moments of additions, subtractions or reversed decisions throughout the process.

In 2013, Alison promoted the release of her first album, Earnest Keep, with two regional tours through the south and midwest, one of which was by way of an Amtrak train. In between tours, Alison was in the snowy masses of Carbondale, Colorado, tracking Loved/Dark, which she plans to support with a national tour this summer, with an additional run of shows in the U.K.

Loved/Dark is a reflection of Alison’s ability to not only grow as a songwriter and performer, but also as a storyteller and explorer.

Band Members