Ranzel X. Kendrick’s output under the name Alias Wayne has become an important part of Kendrick’s musical history and his latest single under the pseudonym, “Ms Mystery”, rates high in the pantheon of Kendrick’s recording career. The Texas native, long since relocated to Central America, writes and performs by his rules alone and doesn’t traffic with raffish trends or flavors of the month. There’s something durable, even eternal, you’ll hear in Alias Wayne’s “Ms Mystery” on first hearing and every listen after your initial pass will reveal additional subtleties. It’s reflective of the many years Kendrick has practiced his art and the innate talent that makes it possible.
Kendrick’s uncle Roger Miller, best known for the classic “King of the Road”, helped fan the flames of Kendrick’s youthful artistic desires, but any comparison essentially ends there. Intelligence distinguishes the music of both men, albeit in different ways. It’s clear that the individual responsible for the arrangement and lyrical content of “Ms Mystery” is literate and reflective. Moreover, they consider the big picture rather than bogging themselves down with trifling matters.
“Ms Mystery” doesn’t draw its lyrical material straight from the Bible, but more than a whiff of Final Judgment presides over the song’s lines and verses. It’s a nifty bit of artistic sleight of hand that Kendrick can summon such a mood without his writing ever lapsing into outright sermonizing. He’s writing and singing from a human point of view rather than preaching, though there’s a strong suggestion of a street corner soothsayer predicting the End of the World.
Soulful backing vocals balance out against the wizened blues grit present in the lead vocals. Yes, Kendrick, as Alias Wayne, pushes a little bit of a Jeremiah on the mount feel, but his authority comes from conviction rather than Biblical sources. He conveys effortless authority. The backing vocals’ contribution accentuates the feel of its being a part of experienced lived rather than secret knowledge.
The blues instrumentation in the song fits nicely with the vocals. There’s never any needless grasping at cliché, though ample opportunity and the authentically rugged demeanor of the song’s arrangement get under your skin with a single listen. Each participant in this performance engages completely with the piece rather than giving it a studied performance. This isn’t an academic exercise for anyone involved. It’s life or death and the song never fails to convey that quality.
Ranzel X. Kendrick has worked at this avocation for many years and shows no signs of slowing down. Whether it’s under his own name or the Alias Wayne moniker. Kendrick’s music has the ring of truth forever present in its grooves and the obvious skill propelling songs such as this forward keeps them fresh as well. He’s working in a long, time-tested tradition, yet makes this song sound new rather than regurgitated from past glories. “Ms Mystery” doesn’t intend on remaking the songwriting wheel but it’s full of blood, gravel, and grit that makes it unforgettable. You’ll hear it once and keep coming back for more.
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