Allison Iraheta And Halo Circus Reviewed
At a time when walls and barriers absurdly and shamefully are becoming fashionable again, Allison Iraheta and Halo Circus’ new album wants to break down borders and set you free, thanks to a series of panoramic pop-rock songs and their singer’s impressive vocals.
The challenge was to see if a recording could match Allison Iraheta’s Incendiary stage presence, but their debut and self-titled album demonstrates they have succeeded at transmitting the band’s combustible energy, that I had the chance to witness live several times. This album smells dynamite powder, and for a little less than 50 minutes, it delivers one fiery anthem after another, one explosive rocking pop song after another. It especially showcases Allison’s powerhouse, which soars during each one of Halo Circus’ anthemic to epic choruses.
The bilingual approach of the album effectively annihilates borders, showing Allison effortlessly going from one language to the other, although the poignancy of her voice may even be more real when she sings in Spanish (‘Yo Me Voy’), the native language of her Salvadoran parents. The flexibility of her vocals doesn’t have to be demonstrated anymore — Allison finished at the fourth place during the eighth season of American Idol in 2012, and she has left a very strong impression on anyone who has seen her perform.
From ‘Nothing at All’ to ‘Something Special’, she is in full command of her powerhouse, and her passionate to massive howls over giant emotional hooks could remind you a few other famous big-voice female singers, from Garbage’s Shirley Manson to Heart’s Ann Wilson or even Rihanna. Her bold and dramatic vocals rocket with a restless abandon and a Led Zeppelin’s impetuosity during ‘Desire (Lo Que Vale La Pena’) or ‘Yo Me Voy’
The album is a rock show from start to finish, with hard hitting drums and the stormy presence of Allison’s magnificent howls, pushing the horizon and reaching the sky, sounding like a more subtle Shakira fronting Muse (‘All I Have’). The hooks are big and the pop melodies infectious, whereas the songs exhibit a rare diversity in the pop-rock world, with the introduction of an accordion during ‘Verdad’ a song with the Clash’s hitting guitars and deep bass-lines combination.
As if each song wanted to outbid the next one in the rock department, ‘Guns In Our Hands’ carries the mental anticipation of a Muse song’s outburst, whereas ‘Band-Aid’ soars with a rebellious tone, bringing another layer of pathos to Halo Circus’ already poignant soundscapes. ‘Love songs are a band aid/poetry’s a band aid/we want a revolution/a short cut to solution,’ sings Allison in ‘Band Aid’. When singing about the rehashed theme of lost love is often a asking-for-pity game, Allison Iraheta does not want to be a victim, she is a warrior and a rebel, and she is asking for a revolution.
Halo Circus flirts with a poppy dance floor during ‘Out of Love’, whereas the torch song ‘You Can’t Take You Away From Me’ sounds like a sentimental power ballad that Adele couldn’t have sung better, and ‘Something Special’ made me think about a more buoyant Nelly Furtado tune.
The whole album is colorful and vibrant with bi-lingual lyrics and a loud, in-your-face production by multi platinum record producer Matthew Hager. ‘Behind sadness there’s happiness, and behind happiness there is anger,’ said Allison during an interview, combining in a sentence all the feelings she manages to communicate through her dramatic, soulful vocals and badass attitude. ‘Allison Iraheta and Halo Circus’ is a collection of unapologetic songs, occasionally interrupted by atmospheric interludes, it’s a wide-screen rocking explosion, and an effortless riotous effort.