When we first encountered Philly’s Aleana, it was her voice that grabbed our attention.

Teamed with Philly rapper / crooner Mars Parker as a backing vocalist on his Key Studio Session, she gave the performance what I described at the time as “a stunning, introspective counterpoint.” Now I’m not saying she straight up stole the show, but she definitely stood out with that performance, and we put Aleana on our radar here at The Key to see what came next.

First, there was the loosie “S.O.S.,” a bubbling electropop / R&B tune filled with frustrated lost-at-sea images as the singer and songwriter lyrically searched for love. Then there was an impressive set we saw her play with her band, opening the show at Underground Arts for Hardwork Movement’s For The People album release party. Faced with a room of people that was revved up and ready to party, she actually got them to quiet down and just listen; on “Careless,” the focus was so locked in that she taught the crowd the hook and had them sing along to close the set.

Now, we have her latest project, Chapter 22, which came out last Friday. It’s a reflection on Aleana’s 22nd trip around the sun, punctuated by stories of infatuation and romance, scorn and betrayal. The music levels up the atmospheric sound we hear on “S.O.S.” — it’s spacey and expansive, minimal and uncluttered, allowing Aleana to sit comfortably in the center as a singer and storyteller. As our Madorne Lemaine said in her review of the EP yesterday, the music (dazzling as it may be) is secondary to the words and emotions, which is the project’s true strength.

That’s evident in the Key Studio Sessions performance Aleana recorded on EP release day. Accompanied by Charlie Coin, strumming breezy minor sevenths on guitar and striking a moody jazzy feeling, she played three of Chapter 22‘s songs (plus “S.O.S.”), proving that they can exist in a completely different, yet equally impressive manner.

Watch videos of “Careless” and “Divine Creatures” below, and stream an audio archive of the whole session via Soundcloud. Listen to Chapter 22 in its entirety here, and mark your calendars for Thursday, March 1st, when Aleana and her band will play a free Fireside Sessions show at Winterfest by the Blue Cross RiverRink. Details on that event can be found here.

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