Not much scares Los Angeles-based guitarist, singer and songwriter Ali Handal, but especially not the word “feminism.” With a combination of sassy humor and straight talk, Ali tackles many cultural taboos—like real women’s bodies and sex from the female perspective—head on through her funky, roots-oriented songs.
Musically, Ali holds her own among the ranks of fierce female performing songwriters like ani difranco, as well as heavy-hitting shredders like rocker Orianthi. Ali has furthered the dialogue about women’s extraordinary abilities through three studio albums, tours of Australia, Japan and the U.K., plus work with legends like Neil Young and Paul Williams.
With her fourth full-length album, That's What She Said, Ali continues her mission to recognize and celebrate women’s unique challenges and triumphs. This album is a rootsy, acoustic-leaning collection of songs embodying the strength and considerable sense of humor necessary to thrive as a woman in the 21st century. Cheeky songs like “I Love My Pussy.cat” and “Thank God for Birth Control” tap into Ali’s natural sass while simultaneously subtly (and sometimes NOT so subtly) challenging traditional gender roles.
Other songs, such as “Everybody’s So Naked,” poke fun at mainstream culture and express frustration with a world of entertainment that so often rewards women for taking off their clothes rather than exhibiting actual skills. The songs “You Get What You Settle For” and “Better Man” encourage girlfriends to speak up and support each other—and like Ali is in real life, her lyrics are chock full of an older sister’s tough love and hard-won wisdom. At a young age, Ali was moved by strong, sensitive artists.
Over the years, the powerful melodies and lyrics penned by Carole King, ani difranco, John Lennon and Paul McCartney captivated her. She had an epiphany when, as a teenager, she heard Led Zeppelin for the first time and, seduced by Jimmy Page’s guitar riffs, she abruptly quit her piano lessons and picked up the guitar for herself. Now, she unleashes sultry, groove-filled songs upon live audiences, setting the stage ablaze with fiery guitar passages and soulful lyrics delivered by a powerhouse voice. When asked about her music and stage presence, fans simply say, “badass!”
A few years ago, Ali penned Guitar for Girls (Hal Leonard), an exceptional guitar method book and CD brimming with advice for aspiring musicians, as well as encouraging quotes and remarkable songs from female songwriters in all genres. Ali explains why, as a self-proclaimed feminist, she would write an instructional book that implies girls need a special book in order to learn guitar: “I knew Hal Leonard was going to get someone to write that book, so it might as well be me. That way, I could highlight fantastic, empowering songs written by accomplished female artists, showing the next generation of female singer-songwriters and guitarists how it’s done—and that they can do it too!”
You That's What She Said will be available in November. Download the title track for free at AliHandalMusic.com.