Tommy Alexander is a force of nature, much like his new album Waves. A highly- ranked collegiate athlete, he grew tired of baseball, quit the sport and dropped out of college after receiving a guitar as a present for his 21st birthday. Immediately his life changed. Knowing three chords he started writing songs and performing music. Along the way, he founded a music-collective, a record label, plus started promoting and booking shows at a variety of venues in Portland, Oregon.
Watching chickens scratching for food after a snowfall in Vermont gave him the idea for Whatever You Say, a song that at the end of the day says that we are all more similar than you might think. Amidst the guitars and drums, Alexander offers up his take on things, “You’re on the left and I’m on the right/ I’m on a wire, I’ve been up at night/ Chickens in the dirt we’re all just scratching for food.” Reducing things to that simple level we are suddenly not so different. The song ends with the chickens still scratching for food, but now, “there’s one for me and one for you.”
In just under two minutes, Doing Things Together goes from something bordering on mournful as Alexander’s acoustic guitar drives the song, “Doing things together/ Sure beats doing things away from you/ Yes it’s true I’m missing you tonight.” As the song continues it becomes clear that the loneliness is temporary as the band comes in and a trumpet takes the song into a more playful, positive territory. Although you may or may not want to accept Alexander’s take on the tune, “A sweet song to your honey… or your dog.”
In our current Covidian nightmare, End of the World offers glimmers of optimism, while I Blame Myself uses mostly acoustic guitar and drums to point a finger at himself as he recounts a relationship that ended in failure. Mining a musical seam that takes in the country of Cash and Prine, along with the rock edge of Hiatt they all seem to come into play on Troubled Mind, with the band rocking away as Alexander moans, “I been sitting alone with a troubled mind/ Thinkin’ ‘bout better times/ I’m pretty sure it’s too late to start this over/ I don’t wanna go to work today/I’d rather smoke some weed and cry.” Not exactly a vote of confidence that life is going to get better, but Alexander seems to come around.
Tommy Alexander, singer, songwriter, force of nature. It would make a great business card. For the uninitiated, Waves makes a great introduction. There’s plenty to chew on and it’s all pretty tasty