Your crusty chronicler does his own thing. Still, when Examiner asked for support for their “List” format, it was impossible not to be open-minded. So, with that spirit of teamwork and unity in mind, your rockin’ reviewer presents this relatively new series—“Track by Track” in which we review certain select CDs “track by track”.
This edition we (ahem) examine singer-multi-instrumentalist Alias Means’ debut disc Light Matter. On this 10-track work Alias leads the way with lead guitar, harmonica, piano and lead vocals. On this self-produced project, he is backed by a bevy of other assorted artists from L.A. including: keyboardist Darice Bailey (Eugene Edwards, The Coals), backing vocalist Brian Descheneaux, guitarists Jorden Levine (Ocean 11) and Gene Micofsky, drummer Matt Lucich (Queensryche, Pat Monahan), bassist Paul Marshall (Strawberry Alarm Clock, I See Hawks in LA) and Marty Rifkin (Glen Campbell, Dwight Yoakam, Bruce Springsteen) on dobro, pedal and lap steel.
(View the list to learn more about the music of Alias Means.)
The album opens on “Delicate Mind”. This is a strong, rockin’ lead-in that lyrically concerns a lover who is perhaps fearful of commitment. Note Means words: “She said she was an actress–But she could only fake it–I said she’d need some practice–If she was gonna make it”.
The second selection is the song “Sleeves”. This is pretty much a country cut that follows the rather common theme of a love lost. Still, Means manages to make the idea his own with his own combination of composition and individualistic singing style regardless of the fact that we have heard this before.
“Things I Can’t Explain”
The next number is titled “Things I Can’t Explain”. Thus far this song has been comparatively somewhat ignored by critics and yet this ballad has something to it that seems friendly and familiar once one actually listens to it. Just like all the other tracks on this recent release, it’s an original work.
“Lonesome Valley Blues No. 4”
Regular readers may very well already recognize the following track titled “Lonesome Valley Blues No. 4”. Previously featured in another series on Examiner, this one is noteworthy for being a song that seems to contain multiple influences including elements of both country and the blues which perhaps should be no surprise.
“Last Train” follows here. Face it, folks, there is just something about a train that so many songwriters just have to write about sooner or later. Maybe it’s the Freudian aspect or maybe it’s the possible musically metaphoric possibilities. Whatever the case, Means is no exception to this unwritten rule and does his bit here.
“No Concern of Mine”
What’s next is “No Concern of Mine”. This is the song that perhaps most obviously reveals Means mixed bag of influences. Specifically, this one is a rather pop-tinged tune in comparison to many of the other tracks on this recording. Perhaps this is one reason why it stands out a bit.
The seventh selection is the song “Winterblind”. This is another of Alias’ ballads and would work quite well during the winter for those who prefer original music that doesn’t slap you in the face with the holidays. Indeed, it works well throughout the year as it’s quite possible to be “winterblind” any time.
“Before Too Long”
The album’s eighth audio offering is titled “Before Too Long”. This cut is yet another ample example of what Alias is capable of in terms of both songwriting and performing in studio. This cut contains elements that make your rockin’ reviewer wonder just how Alias would come off in a live venue.
“Trouble With My Muse”
As the CD begins to wind down the listeners are treated to the tuneful track “Trouble With My Muse”. There is something funny in that Alias managed to not only complete the cut but he managed to finish the entire album as well. Still, it’s true that art ain’t often easy.
The album’s end-note is the unique cut titled “Thor’s Scene “. There is something her that seems both classic and current and trendy. As one writer stated it’s a “psychedelic country poem” that communicates a message of perseverance.
In the words of promoter Kim Grant, Alias Means’ Light Matter is truly “quirky country music contemplation on life and love” with elements of bluegrass, honky tonk and old fashioned rock and roll to boot. Listen to it for yourself and you might find that “Before Too Long” you just might agree.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.