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Rob Alexander

Being Myself

Review by Gary Hill

There is a song on this set which is dedicated to Elton John. You wouldn't really need to know that to pick up on the EJ reference here. That mostly comes from Rob Alexander's vocals, but also to some degree from the songwriting. This set is packed full of accessible pop rock that works well. The only complaint is that sometimes less is more. It was a function of physical limitation of the vinyl format that albums in the days of records were about 40-minutes long, but it was also almost a happy accident. Many times, that kind of mandatory self-editing made discs stronger, less because it forced artists to put only the best songs on a set, but more because it often kept the songs from sounding the same. The extra length afforded by CD and now digital formats often means that the formula can wear a bit thin at times. I think that happens here. This would have been a stronger release had the fifteen songs been pared down to maybe a dozen and the remaining tracks been held over for a subsequent release. Still, many people listen to music one track at a time these days, so that is perhaps a moot point, anyway.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
This Hollywood Road
There is a bit of a funk element at play, particularly in the bass work. This is energetic and classic in texture. It's also catchy.
Being Myself
I dig the keyboard textures that open this cut. It drops to a more stripped back arrangement from there for the vocals. It feels a lot like something Elton John might have done to me. I'm a big EJ fan so that's high praise from me. The more energized parts of this even remind me just a little of something like "Philadelphia Freedom."
We Own This Town Tonight
This one is again very much in line with the kind of thing Mr. Dwight might do. It is an energizing and rocking tune. It's also a lot of fun.
Life As We Know It
I love the fun groove on this tune. It has some great hooks and is just generally a strong pop rock piece.
Never Gonna Let You Go
Drums start this, leading the listener to expect a rocker. Instead we get a ballad that reminds me of Elton John in a big way. The horn lends some magic to the piece, but the whole cut is just so stylish and tasty.
Friend Of Mine (Elton's Epic)
This is both accessible and rather complex. It has a great balance between the mellower sections and the more energized ones. As you might guess, that Elton John element is on display here. I'm reminded of ABC a bit when it comes to some of the little bits of classical strings. I really dig the guitar fills and the keyboard textures late in the track.
Our Love Will Last Forever
The Elton John vibe is very strong on this tune. While it's essentially a balladic piece, it has some energized rocking elements at play in sections.
We're Living In A Dream
Bouncy and fast paced, this rocker is strong. It's a bit too theatrical for my tastes at times, though.
Fed Up
While this starts just a bit jazzy, this more driving rocker is a cool tune. It has a lot of energy and oomph built into it. I dig the clean guitar solo, too.
American Love Song
Now, there seems to be a bit of a Neil Diamond thing on this tune. Merge that with the Elton John element that is present throughout the album. This is more of a balladic piece. It's also strong.
I-O-U
There is so much cool funk built into this fast paced number. It has a cool groove, and feels like something that would have been at home in the pre-disco funk era. It's a catchy dance styled cut that rocks.
Another Love Affair
Here we get another rocking tune that calls to mind Elton John. It's a solid piece, but honestly, it's not enough of a change to really feel all that different from the rest. The expressive guitar work late in the track is a nice touch, though.
Secrets & Lies
Now, we're back in the right direction here. This has a lot of that EJ element, but also plenty of ABC. It's a combination that elevates this toward the front of the set in terms of quality and style. There is some tasty guitar soloing on this number, too.
Kaden
This rocking tune works pretty well. There is a hook on the tune that definitely makes me think of America's "Sandman." The early mellower section of this is just sort of average, but once it kicks into high gear it works well. I love the guitar solo on the song, too.
Loved By You
While this cut is not bad, the formula is definitely stretched a bit thin by here. I think this should perhaps have been saved for a later release. This song really deserves the chance to shine, and I don't think it gets it here.
 
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