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ALEXANDER WOLFE Morning Brings A FloodDharma Records (2010)

Alexander Wolfe

If there are any surprises in 'Morning Brings A Flood' they surely come in the confidence of multi-instrumentalist Alexander Wolfe's playing and the subtly of his production, both of which serve to highlight the lyrical nuances, moods and tensions of a fine album.

'Morning Brings A Flood' sounds like the work of an artist on his third or fourth album with the might of a big producer behind him. And while this patently isn't the case here, Alexander superbly fills the dual roles of a song-writing musician and producer who has bided his time and worked out exactly who he wants to be on an impressive debut album.

If there's a down side it is simply that he's allowed himself to dip into the popular post Coldplay well of singer song writers with angst ridden songs. But the difference between Wolfe and his contemporaries is that there's real musical quality and substance here to underpin a mix of emotionally raw lyrics and occasional strands of eclecticism, in songs that do not necessarily reveal their true meaning in one play. But like so much quality music it takes repeated plays to glean both the lyrical meanings and the musical subtleties at play.

There's also the fact that despite carving out his own niche, Alexander doesn't hold back from searching out a few derivative moments. His husky voice on the opening 'Prague Song' for example, is highly reminiscent of Nick Drake, while the opening bars of 'Lazybones' are inspired if not lifted from Neil Young's 'Harvest'. But Alenxander ultimately explores his own notion of fractured beauty on the latter, over deftly arranged strings and a sweeping arrangement, before an unexpected muscular guitar break shifts the ending towards proggier climbs.

But Alexander is always guided by a bigger picture. In this case it is the flow of the album, which sees the end guitar break of 'Lazybones' juxtaposed by the atmospheric 'Till Your Ship Comes In', while on 'Empty Morning' he contrasts his husky voice and a sonorous horn arrangement with the more contemporary processed vocals, big drum sound, riffing guitar and booming chords of 'Movement'.

On top of that, there are some heartfelt dark lyrics that avoid pathos but undoubtedly draw you in to his tortured soul via songs like 'Movement' and the claustrophobic 'This Submarine'.

And while his impressive use of elongated vowels and the rootsy blend of 'Song for the Dead' has already been picked up by TV, there's enough musical diversity and weighty lyric intent to avoid being pigeonholed as the next Chris Martin.

Indeed such is the richness of Alexander's production work that you could argue 'Morning Brings a Flood' is potentially the beginning of a double career as a song writing musician and producer. Given the seamless confluence of the two roles on the album, Alexander Wolfe has recorded a startlingly mature debut that suggests he's already well on the way to fulfilling his potential.


Review by Pete Feenstra


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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