Alex Wellkers – Famous Now

Alex Wellkers’ path to the release of his new album Famous Now follows some predictable steps. There is an individual restlessness though in the way Wellkers moved through influences as diverse as classical guitar and freestyle rap before coming to rest, at least for now, with the superficially traditional configuration of guitar, bass, drums, and synthesizer/keyboard/piano.

There is likewise the spark of something special in Wellkers fearlessness for weaving seemingly disparate strands into coherent and remarkably colorful musical threads. There are significant portions of Famous Now where Wellkers plays things “by the book” and they pack a punch, but there are equally significant parts of the album where Wellkers walks the ledge, even briefly, and invites us to join him.

It is well worth the trip. We are out on the ledge for the first time with the opening song. “Get This Far” takes the deceptively audacious step of beginning things with a dyed-in-the-wool piano ballad. Wellkers, however, dismisses any misgivings you may have with a wrenching performance and the piano’s lyricism answers his voice with one memorable run after another.

Classical elements, albeit small in scale, make their presence felt during “We See It All Coming” thanks to lovely string contributions. Their effect is strongest in the song’s hushed first half before the thunder arrives and displaces its primacy in the mix. Wellkers; judicious use of effects on the vocals enhances this song as well.

Dread Love Passion” starts out with the drums and bass duetting, achieving a wide swing, before they find a faster groove for the song’s introduction. It  is one of the album’s hardest rockers, especially during its verses and choruses, but takes a distinctly odd path to get there. The track is a bounty of the slightly off-kilter, rhythmically, and in terms of its arrangement. Taking on this sort of ambitious agenda with a rock song is always a fun listen.

I See You Give In” slams into listeners with bare bones pulverizing riffing that he soon augments with low key synth flourishes. He lightens his musical touch later in the song, briefly, and the diversity helps it.

The closing track “Now I See Now I Regret” is a contender for the album’s strongest track and certainly one of its best. His grunge roots show strong for a final time and, though it is overall a much more straightforward affair, he cannot resist peppering the song with some memorable touches you will hear for yourself. Don’t be afraid to return to the album for a second and third time either.

Wellkers’ songs are not disposable, and you will likely find yourself hearing things you missed out on during your first lap. It is another mark of a fine album – it keeps revealing more of itself on subsequent spins. We never have to worry about this songwriter even breaking down and just churning out fluff. Alex Wellkers’ Famous Now is as far from fluff as it gets, and you’ll get that even after a single listen.

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