The music industry – our industry – is undeniably cluttered; almost anyone with access to a Mac and the Internet can produce music, and as a result there’s so much “stuff” to choose from, that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to scour it all for favorites.
Then again, sometimes an absolute gem drops right into your lap. Alec Chambers is a noticeable newcomer who I immediately paid attention to. Simply put, this guy has it; the “look”, the proven songwriting team, and a delivery that is immediately catchy. Follow along by playing the EP below through as you read.
The EP has an attractive cover, a perspective on the artist in the archway; an often-ignored detail, that well thought through and relevant album artwork can show you at a glance how serious the artist is.
The opening single, ‘Whole Again’, starts carefully, a guitar riff that reminds me of the Hollywood MI or Berklee sound. It’s just guy and his guitar, and very soon, it becomes obvious why the concept of Alec Chambers will do so well;
“I wanted someone like you
Someone that always comes through,
I guess my life needs a soundtrack”
Song writing like this is an art that requires study, hard work, and perfection. The collaboration with Sarah Nagourney makes this obvious to the listener; the piece is a perfect 3 minutes (and one second) long, and has something in each stanza to engage the listener. The chorus is anthemic and crashes in before 30 seconds are up. With syncopated rhythms on the vocal, dynamics, and well-designed transitions between the simple acoustic guitar and enough treats to appreciate and digest, it’s a pleasing opener. You can find the supporting video right here.
At this point, there’s a surprise, and a clever one. Track 2, “Lost In Translation”, is the killer single on the EP. Brilliant, guys. It’s not the title track, you will come into it expecting a little less, and you’ll be punched out with one of the most bouncy, catchy rock/pop numbers I’ve heard in 2015 so far.
The crowd handclap reminds me of the catchy crowd-pleaser “That Thing You Do” by movie-band The Wonders, which I’ve always loved. The formula works and Alec sticks to it, delivering in less than 3 minutes; quiet intro, build, catchy chorus, dynamics in the bridge, layered vocals, and just long enough to leave you wanting more. I had the pleasure of listening to this song at 34,000 feet on the way to Vegas, and I can’t help but smile, sing, and finger-drum along to it, whatever my neighbor in seat 8E thinks of me by now.
“Are we lost in translation? So frustrating,
Words always get in the way;
I can’t fake it, no complication,
Trying to get on the same page;
I’ll try anything I do
To keep me next to you;
Lost in translation,
Words always get in the way”
All that’s missing for me is a nice wailing guitar solo after the bridge. Before we know it, after a lovely little bridge (“are you even listening”), and massive last chorus, the song is out with a bang. Good lord, it’s euphoric.
‘Bleecker Street’ is the third and longest track on the EP, and is what I’d call the more thoughtful number; it’s the musician’s track, laced with harmonica throughout. It’s a quieter chorus, with emotive lyrics that can pull you into the song’s meaning, should you choose to go there.
“Seemed like she was everywhere
Found her socks under a chair;
I found her shirt under the couch,
Oh get me out, out of this house”
I’d like to think that we’re seeing more of Alec’s emotional side as a musician in this song; he expresses it with feeling, and it’s appreciated. This will be the song that I’m sure I’ll end up replaying in months from now as I remember the release of this EP. By comparison, Jimmy Marino’s excellent track “Moving Day” gave me a similar musical slow-burning buzz.
“I hit a river coming in,
yeah I can feel it on my skin;
and now I remember why I came
to Bleecker Street”
The EP is capped off with ‘Heart of Gold’. It’s another strong work, with a little more synth this time making the listen refreshing. There’s another single in this track, I’m sure of it; this one would be the “sweet” song of the four. It’s a very nice wrap.
Alec Chambers is a breath of fresh air. This EP has reminded me what you can achieve with a great team; musical talent, coupled with proven songwriters who can deliver 12 minutes and 52 seconds of entertainment. Heck, you could listen to this entire EP twice in your lunch break, which with today’s short audience attention span is a bonus. I can sincerely say that Alec joins my list of “most listenable work” alongside fellow Fish Pond family Hadley Kennary (In Fall), Jimmy Marino (A Change of Scene) and Christian Lopez (Pilot). I’m predicting that Alec Chambers, with the right breaks, publicity, and follow up work, will do very well indeed. I encourage you to buy it as I did, and contribute to the continued work of this great team.
One world, one family, one musical heartbeat.
David M Smith
Founder, Global Musicians Fish Pond