Flowing with vitality and richly textured, perhaps more than they are anywhere else on Rob Alexander’s Being Myself album, the strings that adorn the thick grooves of the record’s second single “Friend of Mine (Elton’s Epic)” might not be the main object of our affections in this song – next to Rob’s voice, what else could be? – but they’re undeniably essential to creating the mood that the track uses to capture our hearts in just under five minutes’ time. Alexander joins in their volley with his trademark crooning in what can only be described as a harmony for the ages in “Friend of Mine (Elton’s Epic),” which in turn is a song that brings to mind both the icon referenced in its title as well as the one of a kind singer behind its magic.
In the middle of the master mix, we discover the linchpin keeping everything together in a tight package; Rob. Beneath the layers of guitar, piano, bass, and multifaceted drumming, he’s there to guide the track into the sunset with a hesitant execution befitting of the emotional undertow he’s so artfully straddling. There’s nothing to come between his voice and the audience in the grander scheme of things – though the mix is stacked as to put him at the very foundation of the action, his vocal is never obscured by the onslaught of instrumental cratering that ebbs and flows with the appearance of the chorus. He’s taking a page or two from Elton here, but this is by and large a work of his own compositional imagination.
Despite the unsophisticated nature of the production style here, the physicality of the EQ cannot be disputed, even when listening to “Friend of Mine (Elton’s Epic)” at more moderate volumes. The bassline is the perfect cushion to the vocal, and while the drums have a little more oomph on them than they needed (mostly in the chorus), it isn’t enough to stop the keys and the guitar from shining through the beats and colorizing the entire backdrop of the verses in kaleidoscopic neon and gold. Some might take issue with the placement of the guitars, but I think it was paramount to giving Rob’s singing a little bit more backing, especially near the conclusion of the track. A lot of thought and love went into this work, and that’s obvious even to the novice ear.
I wasn’t a serious Rob Alexander fan before picking up a copy of Being Myself and revisiting it once more with the release of this latest single, but I definitely can’t wait to hear what he’s going to create in the next year. He’s been on quite a roll lately, and though there are a lot of singer/songwriters making adult contemporary music that could qualify as being as noteworthy as he is, he’s certainly in the top tier of the southeastern underground at the moment. Only time will tell for sure, but I think Alexander is onto something really good in “Friend of Mine (Elton’s Epic),” and he should do everything he can to develop it into the beast it can be.
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