Alex Wellkers is into writing and recording music for the long haul. You hear his first full-length song cycle famous now and know he hasn’t yet reached his final form.
No matter though. His tenth self-released collection since 2014 presents nine new songs, including one remix, and finds the young Swiss singer/songwriter excelling in different styles. He’s progressed at an astonishing rate in the eight years since his first EP and hearing the songs for this larger effort should leave no doubters that he’s elevated his game.
There’s more to come. The piano-fascinated songwriter responsible for penning fare such as the album opener “Get This Far” and “Der Schmied Aller Leben” is a finished product for the most part, polished, and potent. That style is complemented by a mild classical vein running through other tracks, however, and the rock muscle evident in other songs is diverse and never one note.
“What Keeps Me Alive”, the album’s second track, has a lighter rock touch than some of the album’s similar efforts. Wellkers, however, gets a biting guitar sound here and elsewhere. He’s a proverbial one-man-band for listeners on the rock tracks handling the guitar work, bass, and drums while still latching onto a memorable “band” sound.
It almost sounds tentative compared to later rock tracks. “Believe in What You Do Have” establishes a template for the remaining songs, but make no mistake, Wellkers never feels hidebound to follow it. This track opens on a quiet acoustic note and builds slowly from there before reaching crashing guitar-fueled heights. “Dread Love Passion” is a great example of his capacity for variation.
The song’s slower than average drag works to its advantage. Wellkers wrings alternative dynamics from the rock style and doesn’t sound like a ham-fisted imitation but, instead, something fresh. Rock and its associated styles are fields of play for any artist who can pour old wine into new bottles. “Dread Love Passion” embodies that talent as well as any other album track.
“I See You Give In” bristles with attitude and its head-down, straightforward guitar riff helps drives its point home with a minimum of fuss. Some listeners might crave a bit more vocal clarity from the mix, but it doesn’t unduly mar the song. Wellkers is notable, as well, for his ability to provide convincing performances in several styles.
“Now I See Now I Regret” ends famous now with perhaps its most fully realized rock song yet. It encompasses the best elements of its predecessors while embracing the earlier trajectory of alternating light and shadow. Wellkers resolves the arrangement in a satisfying way and it has a deeper and more lasting impact than any of the earlier songs. It underlines, as well, the overall coherence that gives Alex Wellkers’ famous now much of its enduring power. He’s served us with a full slate of songs that never confines their scope of human experience to one or two themes. He’s searching, still exploring, definitely growing, and these nine new songs document his evolution.
by Jennifer Munoz