KAMI VAN HALST – My Alice / Jack & Sarah’s Song

Van Halst’s 2016 album ‘World of Make Believe’ is a reasonable slab of rock. It’s by no means an essential record, but its ten songs combine a semi old fashioned metal style with occasional gothy elements to create something that isn’t always a million miles away from the likes of The Pretty Reckless, often with half-enjoyable results. What seems pretty obvious, though, is that the album’s material wasn’t always given the best send off. On the title track, in particular, she’s presented quite low in the end mix, which results in some of her bigger notes not having the desired impact – especially compared with something similar from Nightwish and their ilk – and on the moodier ‘Questions’, her lower registers really don’t have much of a presence at all.

On the first of her Halloween themed tunes for 2023, she reaches within herself for a much bigger vocal, and ‘My Alice’ really feels the benefit for it. Her tribute to Alice Cooper is a riff-heavy number that captures the best elements of melodic metal and horror rock/gothic tones, and Van Halst obviously feels a much stronger connection to the material in hand. From the opening guitar riffs, attacking with a huge, soaring tone, it’s a number that really attracts the attention. As the track gains momentum, the lead work – supplied by Bon Jovi man Phil X – goes head to head with a great lead vocal, and hearing a very 80s lead in conjunction with a sizeable goth-metal vocal really makes the track. Kami adopts a sinister curl, as she works through a medley of Cooper’s lyrics drawn from ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’, ‘Poison’ and ‘School’s Out’, which set against a brand new melody of her own is surprisingly affective. It’s easily one of Van Halst’s best tunes, but she’s actually outshone by Phil, who adds a very strong Guns N’ Roses-esque lead break en route, and closes the track with an impressive flurry notes tapping into the melodic metal tradition. He certainly doesn’t get to do anything quite this impressive in his day job, playing hired help to a man who can no longer carry a decent melody. Of course, this track probably shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but it more than works when approached purely as a bit of musical fun, and those top notch solos really give the arrangement a lift.

Her other spooky treat comes in the form of a cover of ‘Jack & Sally’s Song’ from the classic ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. It’s fair to say she handles the light theatrical melody very well, but she doesn’t actually do anything new with it. When played back to back with the superior ‘My Alice’, the result is like finding a talented hopeful doing a bit of top grade karaoke on YouTube and hoping they’ll be discovered. You’d hope by now that Kami would consider herself above such things, but settling for what’s offered, her airy approach is well suited to the floating piano melody. That said, quite why most people would choose to listen to this outside of the film itself – well covered, or not – is a mystery.

On the basis of these tunes alone, it’s clear that Van Halst is able to handle most things with a more than competent vocal, and in the case of ‘My Alice’ in particular, understands the value of having fun with her work. For the melodic metal fan looking for strong playlist filler, ‘My Alice’ definitely passes a very entertaining four minutes, and if it inspires a few people to revisit those Alice Cooper hits, or maybe dig even deeper into a world of Furnier treasures, then its certainly been worthwhile.

October 2023