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Trust Us: Go See Alice Smith @ Highline Ballroom

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Trust Us: Go See Alice Smith @ Highline Ballroom

If you’ve heard of Alice Smith, you’ve asked yourself “What happened to her?” at least once a year since 2007. If you haven’t heard of Alice Smith, the answer to that very question is the reason why.

Critics fawned over Smith’s debut For Lovers, Dreamers & Me when it came out in ’07, invoking comparisons to everyone from Patti LaBelle (for the powerhouse vocals) to Fiona Apple (for songwriting that's hard-to-pin-down, that’s funk, rock, punky and jazzy all at once).

She even garnered a Grammy nomination for that album’s song “Dream,” but once the dust settled at Epic Records -- where all kinds of bigwig turnover infamously went down as the label struggled to redefine itself in the digital landscape -- the material Smith had been developing for her sophomore effort kind of got lost in the shuffle.

Meanwhile, she kept playing sold-out shows, where fans would keep asking where the new music was. (Google “alice smith” and “new album” and you’ll come across a faux-campaign called Free Alice Smith’s New Album.)

And though Smith herself has described the whole process as “painful,” she kept on plugging away at life. She’s had a baby girl, moved her family to the sunnier shores of Los Angeles, and lent her four-octave range to projects like a Brazilian tune on the newest Red Hot + Rio compilation to raise funds for AIDS relief and awareness.

She’s also begun working tunes from the new album, such as "Martha" and "Fire," into her live shows.

And while the world waits for The Last After, as we’re told the new album is being called (still no clear sense of when we’ll be able to get our hands on it), seeing one of Smith’s always-electric live performances (she’s at Highline Ballroom June 23, part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival) is the next best thing. (If you don’t believe us, we’ll refer you to one of our favorite YouTube snippets, this goosebump-inducing funk cover of Heart's “Alone” that rarely fails to seal the deal for any nonbelievers in the audience.)

Alice Smith, Thursday, June 23 at 8 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.) at Highline Ballroom, 431 W 16th St.; 212-414-5994. Presented by the Blue Note Jazz Festival/Jill Newman Productions. Tickets $25, available here.

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