With my beautiful Dad at the Olive Free Library

photo: Sandy Bell

With my beautiful Dad at the Olive Free Library

photo: Sandy Bell

Welcome

It's been quite a year - so many ginormous changes in my life and somehow I feel stronger and better than ever! I am now embarking on new projects: a new album, "And The Ride Has Just Begun" to be produced by Jeff Lipstein, a video of "Not Like the Movies" to be directed by Greta Gertler Gold, and a sumptuous recording of "Come Little Baby", a song I wrote years ago for the daughter of Goats in Trees' Jason and Monica Crigler, to be produced by Greta Gertler Gold. Life's been good to me and I'm SO glad to be here! love, alice
















Thanks to Alan Haber at Pure Pop Radio for the following lovely review:

"New York City native and Pure Pop Radio favorite Bierhorst’s catalog is rich with releases highlighting her vibrant songs that paint lovely soundscapes. Now added to the playlist are songs from four more of the immensely-talented singer-songwriter’s 15 albums (her latest release, The Beacon, has been part of our playlist since this past March).

Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: From 2000’s Now Entering Liberty Heights: the soulful, bluesy “Legendary Pillow” and the pretty ballad “Lovable.” From 2007’s The Vigil: “I Will Always Love You (When I’m Alone),” the driving “Thank You,” “Come Little Baby,” “Do You Dream” and the title track. From All Shall Be Revealed: the sumptuous, catchy “Airborne,” “Better Angels,” the lovely “Bright at the End of the Day,” “Farther to Go,” “Golden Hours,” the title track and “I Have Always Been Free.” And from Oxygen, “Not the One” and the title track."

And thanks to babysue for their lovely review of "The Beacon". Here it is:

"In the world of music, sincerity is often overlooked. And that's too bad, because...at least for us...sincerity in music is one of the things that we're always searching for. If you have a similar desire, you may very well find yourself drawn to the impressively personal songs on The Beacon. Alice Bierhorst dedicated the album to the memory of her mother. In spinning these tracks, you can easily pick up on the personal references and the affection that Alice had for her mom. Interestingly, this album was produced by Greta Gold and Adam Gold of The Universal Thump (one of our favorite up-and-coming pop duos). Bierhorst is no newcomer to the world of music. She has recorded and released fourteen albums now (!), the first of which she created when she was only fourteen years old. All those years of work and experience have paid off, as Ms. Bierhorst is now thoroughly focused on her art. This album features ten tracks, all of which feature impeccable arrangements and lyrics that seem to come straight from the heart. Intelligent reflective tracks include "Our Work is Never Done," "Not Like The Movies," and "Goodbye, My Voyager."

Alice’s pretty songs and her tender, expressive vocals, which recall such titans as Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell and Carole King, are wonderful constructs. Whether delivering a tender ballad (“Better Angels”) or an upbeat pop tune (“Airborne”), Alice is tops of the pops.”

Alan Haber, Pure Pop Radio

Specificity... 

I have been giving a lot of thought to specificity in songwriting. I recently got feedback from a songwriting contest suggesting that I get "more specific" in my lyrics and shape my songs into more "understandable" narratives. I found this advice very intriguing and I have been attempting to write what I am dubbing "TWELVE SOLID SONGS", songs that are very specific and completely readable. I am making myself laugh while I write these tunes - a lot of the subject matter is silly and the details are so absurd - life is weird, isn't it?

On the other side of the scale, I have been thinking about why I am drawn to more impressionistic songwriting and I think it goes back to my early exposure to lieder, the art songs written by composers like Schubert and Debussy and Ravel and Richard Strauss and many others in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As one of the contest judges noted in regard to my writing, "lyrics are not the same as poetry". That really stuck with me because I love poetry and the lyrics that I write are certainly indebted to it. But are my lyrics "too" poetic, and not substantial enough? I'm not sure - this is something I really want to explore and challenge myself on. More than anything, I want to communicate states of being and if greater specificity and "concrete-ness" help the listener relate to those states in my songs, that is all for the good. The work continues!

Goodbye, My Voyager 

This song was written as a send-off for my mother as she continues her infinite voyage. As we were rehearsing it, one of the band members, I can't recall who (pianist Barney McAll, bass player Jonathan Maron, and drummer Adam Gold) noted that it reminded them of the music of George Shearing of "Lullaby of Birdland" fame and I realized that I had always loved that song - it was the final track and only cover on my very first album, "Deranged", recorded when I was 14.

Co-producer Greta Gertler Gold had the inspiration to invite a child to sing with me on the chorus, adding a haunting and poignant layer. The child turned out to be the amazingly prepossessed and talented Mirabelle Struck, daughter of brilliant pianist Deidre Rodman Struck. Thank you, Greta and Mirabelle!

I Will Always Love You (When I'm Alone) 

This song was inspired by the movie "Brokeback Mountain". Based on a short story by Annie Proulx, the movie depicted the consequences of forbidden gay love in a small western town in what I remember as the 1950's. The song is universal, and for the many years that I've played it (it was written in 2005), it has always resonated with people. I recorded it in 2007 on "The Vigil" with Greta Gertler Gold on piano and backing vocals. While I loved that recording, I was not completely satisfied with my vocal performance and when the opportunity came up to work with Greta in a larger capacity, I suggested we re-record it. Shortly before I heard the finished arrangements, Greta asked me if I was open to making it into a duet with a male vocalist. I agreed and was very pleased to discover she had chosen Rod Alonzo, an old friend who is a very fine songwriter. I feel his contribution really makes the song.

Tell Me Where 

"Tell Me Where" was written for Ben and Lilly Gallina's wedding, the summer after my mom died. I wanted something that expressed longing and had been learning "Before the Parade Passes By", the wonderful song from "Hello, Dolly" composed by Jerry Herman. A second influence was the intro to "Let It Go" by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Richard Lopez from the Disney movie, "Frozen", with its minor to major inflection. And now that I step back, the song clearly owes a debt to "Over the Rainbow" by Harold Arlen (music) and Yip Harburg (lyrics)! This song was originally completely in C major/A minor and two nights before the wedding, as I drifted off to sleep I suddenly realized I HAD to begin the song in moody C minor and then open it up in the chorus to C major/A minor and modulate again to joyous Ab major in the bridge. The next morning I tore the song open and worked through it with the new road map and wrote it right down to the wire. Here's to you, Ben and Lilly!

Better Angels 

This song pre-dates my mother's death - it is one of two songs on the album that was previously released on "All Shall Be Revealed", a live-in-the-studio album I made in 2012. When I gave the album to Greta, she flagged "Better Angels" as a favorite and said she'd love to try her hand at producing it with "the works", strings and her usual sumptuous approach. Intrigued, I filed that idea away until the summer after mom's death when I suddenly realized I HAD to have Greta make this new album with me and include "Better Angels" and "Airborne", also on "All Shall Be Revealed". Thank god I did because I believe it is one of the standout tracks on "The Beacon". Thank you again, Greta Gertler Gold!

Not Like the Movies... 

When I was going through a hard time, I called my magical friend Sandy Bell, one of the most beautiful and talented people I have been privileged to know in my life. I was sad and confused and she said, "It's not like the movies, babe", and I felt a song come in. Over many months I worked on this piece, gathering in some of the flavor of the music my mother loved most, opera. While it is far from opera and more akin to musicals, I could have never made the leap without my mother's presence encouraging me. As I wrote, I sensed she was opening a door for me to pursue this kind of theatrical songwriting. I owe a great debt to Stephen Sondheim - my parents took me to see a production of "A Little Night Music" when I was ten or so and it haunts me to this day. Thanks to Greta and Adam for their stupendous arrangement and the work of all the choristers and instrumentalists.

Our Work is Never Done 

I had hoped that by 47 I would know more, but it appears that the ocean of things I DON'T know reveals itself to be far larger than I ever imagined with each passing year. The song "Our Work is Never Done" came about as my mother was dying. I saw that there was no end to the learning in this life and the song helped me make some peace with that. I want to acknowledge my debt to Rebecca Martin, a great singer and songwriter who showed me an unfinished song years ago with a very similar title. Perhaps it was "Her Work is Never Done" - I forget now, but when my song was completed I felt an echo of Rebecca in it and couldn't place it right away. Talking with her, she jogged my memory and I had a guilty moment, and then I realized it's all one song, every song is born out of others and as she didn't seem disturbed and the songs are very different in other ways, I want to acknowledge and celebrate the wisdom of her gift to me and how it became woven into the lead track on "The Beacon". Thank you, Rebecca.

Mom and Ellen 

When my mom died, she "gave" me many of the songs that are on "The Beacon", including the framework for "Forever You Go", the seventh track on the album. The song languished for months - I had the hook, which in its original incarnation was "WHEREVER You Go", a far more generic title, and some of the lyrics and a half-formed bridge but I couldn't crack the code on it after months of trying so I put it aside.

That fall, my beautiful former sister-in-law Ellen died unexpectedly. I put a picture of her on my fridge and one evening as I passed by, she "looked" at me and told me what to do. I ran downstairs to the piano and followed her instructions to the letter. The song was re-christened "Forever You Go" and the remaining lyrics and bridge melody were magically supplied.

In this way, I feel this song was a collaboration among the three of us. Thanks, mom and Ellen...

Back on-line... 

Today is my first day "back" on the Internet after a couple years of working quietly in my studio, writing songs, preparing them for "The Beacon" and reflecting on a very rich and mysterious time in my life since the death of my mother in the spring of 2014. Things have changed a lot since then and I have done some serious searching and find that there is no end to the work of living.

My mother, Jane Byers Bierhorst, was a deep reservoir of wisdom in my life. She was tough, uncompromising, tender, funny, unafraid of her emotions, a brilliant graphic designer, a killer cook, magical gardener, and lover of my father for 50 years. She died as she lived, "economically" (as my Dad noted) and completely on her own terms, in her sunny back livingroom with my Dad near her side. She never gave up on me, always encouraged me to continue with music even when I felt desperate for a "normal" life and considered running away from my calling to get a "real" job. Thank god she practically shouted at me when I was in one of those moods - her impatience with the very idea of abandoning music would snap me right out of it and help me recommit to my life's work.

Today I am writing from my new apartment in what the folks around here call South Slope. My beautiful son is advising me, much like mom used to do - don't give up, keep going, get on YouTube. It's very refreshing and touching to hear him encourage me at a time when I am sometimes quite vulnerable and taking new risks. My marriage has ended and I am finding I am much stronger than I ever knew and am so grateful to my new basement studio where I can work as long as I like and return to the way I felt when I was ten and so sure about who I was. In an unexpected way, having my life turned upside down has been very rejuvenating. I truly feel like a kid again finally left alone with my muse.
The Beacon: CD

The Beacon: CD

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A lavishly packaged orchestral pop album. Each individual copy is signed with a personal note from me and a feather

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Previous events

Jun4

Alice Bierhorst and Michael Holt

house concert - Alice's home, Brooklyn, NY

Please come join me at my home studio for a house concert with Michael Holt from Toronto and myself. Please contact me for directions.

Apr10

Alice Bierhorst and Greta Gertler Gold

Barbes, 376 9th St. at 6th Ave., Brooklyn, NY

This is the "soft" CD release party for "The Beacon". Greta opens the night at 7 pm, I will perform from 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm.

Mar25

Jimmy's Songwriter Series

Jimmy's No. 43, 43 E. 7th St., New York, NY

This is a songwriter's series hosted by George Kilby, Jr. I will perform 5 songs at 8 pm as part of an evening showcasing songwriters George Kilby, Jr., Bruce Martin, and Kevin Daniel Miller. NO COVER