One of the traps that teenage singer songwriters tend to fall into is, in their eagerness to get out there, to release ropey recordings and ill-considered YouTube videos. I have lost track of the times I have listened to an angst ridden teenage girl mangle a guitar as they wail through a barely audible home recording. And this is just considering the technical aspects; don’t get me started on some of the content of these songs.
So, when I arrived at Alexander Michaels EP Echoes And Whispers on my playlist totally by accident, having forgotten I had it, or who it was from, I initially presumed it was something I had been sent by one of the many PR companies I work with. The recording was professional, and of an impressive quality. And by the sound of what I was hearing it had been performed by a mature, talented and experienced artist. But at the same time I had a niggling thought that I had been given this personally by a local artist. A quick Facebook hunt later and I had my surprising answer – Alexander Michael was actually 19 year old Gloucestershire native Alexander Smith, formerly of The Rebel Cheesecutters and now flying solo. I have no idea how this one had slipped through the net, as it really did make me do a double-take, something I would have done even if it had been a recognised national artist, it is that good.
At its core this is a four track EP of acoustica. But it is much more than that; some real thought has gone into these songs. They sound fat and full, with subtle use of additional instrumentation and vocals that has been well considered and adds rather than distract. The roots are folk, but folk from all over the place, with elements of English, Irish, and Balkan folk along with a healthy dose of American inspiration. Technically it is hard to fault, the playing is excellent and his voice has enough uniqueness and character to stay interesting, with its smooth rich tones that wrap around you, relishing the words being sung. Lyrically there is a surprising maturity for someone technically still a teenager, less angsty and self-centred than you may expect, instead they have an intelligent poetry to them, whether examining moving on in life, relationships or self-understanding, never straying into cheap platitudes or mawkishness.
So, an excellent piece of work, and one that I find is already lasting up to repeat listening. I look forward to future releases and live shows with great interest. Oh, and the biggest and best surprise of all is this EP is available free on Alexander’s Bandcamp site – alexandermichael.bandcamp.com
First published by www.greenmanmusic.biz