woensdag 18 september 2019

A Life Like Ours. Shane Alexander

'Allo, to you too, dear reader. The French's pronunciation of the English word 'Hallo' stairs me in the eye from Shane Alexander's new album, following up on the superb 'Bliss'.

Those following this blog and before the magazine know that Shane Alexander has been a part of WoNo Magazine from his very first album. 'The Middle Way' had a cover that confused me, as it suggested a raw sort of alt-americana to me, instead the soft-toned singer-songwriter songs that I come learn to like and love.

So when a new album reaches me, my ears are already in a very positively inclined mood to hear more. A Life Like Ours is the album I wanted to hear. So no, there are no surprises. In this case that is a positive conclusion. For two reasons. Shane Alexander is still growing as a songwriter and having his own studio gives him time to perfect his songs. There are several beautiful arrangements accompanying the new songs. So delicate, yet so strong. You will find that he does not lose himself in endless study work. Goethe's motive on limitations has not been lost on him. Alexander just as easily presents a song with just an acoustic guitar, as one with a full arrangement. At the same time the lyrics show that life has not passed him by. As we grow older,sad goodbyes become part of our lives as do joyful additions and insights. These are all reflected in his lyrics in direct and more subtle ways.

Listening to A Life Like Ours means surrender. I notice I set myself aside to submerge in the musical world Shane Alexander presents me. Take 'I'll Be Here'. A song that has a finger-picked guitar, the emptiness of the studio surrounding the sound, a voice and a piano that pops up and disappears, making me wait for the moment the next note is played. Underscoring the "I'll be here for you, when the world's to heavy" part of lyrics.

The surprise on the new album is a cover of 'Nights In White Satin'. One of the most beautiful songs from my early youth. A song that is slowly fading away from the collective memory. Less played, less heard, slowly descending in that yearly end of year fest called Top 2000. Shane Alexander plays a respectful cover, his voice just right, but adding a great, subtle guitar solo and parts to the original, fully justifying his choice to make a cover of this beautiful ballad.

An extremely familiar song tends to drive away attention from the other songs. The good news is that the quality of the other songs on A Life Like Ours stand their ground easily. Just listen to 'Fault Line' following The Moody Blues' most famous hit. Delicate, loving, caring and true. Perhaps more so than singing "I love you" a dozen times.

Whether it is basically Shane Alexander solo with his guitar or accompanied by the stellar musicians he has gathered around him in his Buddhaland studio, his songs shine. Each single one is like a bright shining star in the heavens. Songs to enjoy and marvel about. Songs that take me away for the length of an album. Mission succeeded, as Shane said: "I hope that my fans will listen to 'A Life Like Ours' top to bottom to get my full intent". It is a treat to do so, but then I grew up with albums as an artform, after having learned about singles even earlier.

A Life Like Ours is a beautiful album and having listened to it multiple times by now, again I'm inclined to thing that it holds all the cards to become my favourite Shane Alexander album, again. Seven albums into the ride and still climbing effortlessly, it seems. Keep surprising me, Shane.


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