I knew I was a Tommy Alexander fan when I saw that his Band Interests on Facebook consisted of “freestyle crying.” Additionally, it was his spring time single “Whatever You Say” that caught my ear and delighted my brain.
With a warm West Coast groove and lyrics that make you ponder, “Whatever You Say” is a songwriter’s song with an indie backbone. I can’t help but get twinklings of John Prine in the lyricism and a tickle of Jeff Tweedy in the vocal delivery. Alexander delivers a breezy electric guitar riff that carries you through the song, and it hits with a meditative quality that is much needed these days.
This track is part of Alexander’s summertime album WAVES, which delivers much more of the same, chock full of indie folk jams suited for most occasions.
“I don’t wanna go to work today/I’d rather smoke some weed and cry/Hey I’ll be sittin’ here wastin’ away with a troubled mind.” And cue the twangy electric guitar riff. Now this is what I’m talking about. This line and most others from the opening track “Troubled Mind” ooze authenticity and vulnerability, and I’m here for it. WAVES marches on with stellar, genuine songwriting and dips in and out of honky tonk feels and indie folk charm.
But don’t get it twisted, Alexander has some serious range. A song like “Stone Fox” hits with heavier indie alt-rock vibes with a vocal delivery like that of Robert Smith of The Cure. Yet despite its lesser country-folk feel, it’s still very much Alexander and his well-honed sound.
As per Alexander’s interweb biography, “Tommy Alexander is the Portland mystic who may have made the best album of 2020. WAVES has become an essential part of our quarantine kit for it’s easy pace, Tommy’s calming baritone, and it’s shockingly prescient lyrics. For the past few years Tommy has been putting sweat equity into his independent booking agency Pilot Light Booking, amassing an incredible roster of live acts, and helping them get out on tour. Booking at venues all over the northwest Tommy is one of those industry lynchpins who rarely get to stand in the spotlight, as they are busy helping others. In his enlarged, kind heart, though, Tommy Alexander is also a folk singer who deserves some shine.”
And shine he shall have. Be sure to check out WAVES wherever you get your music. Except Limewire or Kazaa. I don’t think it’s there.
Photo by Etienne Arent