Matthew Alexander – Midnight Dream Station
This is North Carolina’s Matthew Alexander’s 8th album & while he taps into typically standard topics that average listeners can relate to, he also reflects on life’s mysteries & it has a tinge of optimism. This effort is more piano-based than his previous efforts.
According to Alexander the set is based in an acoustic pop folk tradition. He believes the album concept experience has all but disappeared but attempts to choose & sequence the best songs for an influential impact. The 13-cut Midnight Dream Station (Drops May 19–Caravan Records) was self-produced & the singer-songwriter drew many of his inspirations from dreams & kept a dream journal.
With that motivation activated, his warm vocals, intricate finger picking & engaging storytelling Matt Alexander shaped his more universal & complex lyrical tunes press on issues that include alienation, loss & the importance of connection with others. Matt wrote all 12 songs with one classic Jerry Lieber-Phil Spector cover in “Spanish Harlem.
Vocally, Alexander has a gruff current, more wool than cotton. But what he possesses is that same genuine essential tonality found in the voices of John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Jon Dee Graham, Buddy Miller & John Martyn. It’s a voice that isn’t polished for entertainment, but it is sincere, formulated with a generous amount of experience & significance not found in the more trained, polished perfection of a trained singer.
These songs require that attention & forthrightness. Melodically, “An Apolitical Man,” is expressive with a gentle Jim Lampos-type approach. The use of piano with Matt’s vocal is a good choice, a good brawny mix & there’s still a sweetness that comes through – because of the mere expertise he identifies with & is able to convey to listeners.
The songs are not immersed in that Bob Dylan-word blend, or controversial in nature, or sugar-coated like so many male singer-songwriters. Each tune has their evocative tints, warm-hearted tenacity & simple pleasurable textures.
Matt has good musical instincts though the CD production pristine as it is, has spare in instrumentation. The tunes are easily appealing & there’s an assortment of topics that keep it all interesting without the abundant performance glitz.
The words & the music matter first.
Highlights – “A Feeling In My Bones,” “An Apolitical Man,” “A Mourning Song,” “Moonshine,” “The Upside of Down,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Wine from Bordeaux” & “On a Perfect Day.”
Musicians – Matt (lead & background vocals/piano/organ/synth/ukulele/whistle/6 & 12-string acoustic guitars), Ron Brendle (electric bass) & Al Sergel IV (drums).
Color photo courtesy of Carlo Pieroni & CD cover image by Jim McGuire. The 45-minute CD @ https://alexandertunes.com/