John Alexander
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John Alexander

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So scintillating that it sounds at times you could be forgiven for losing yourself completely

Originally from Glasgow, John upped sticks and left for sunnier climbs in Christchurch, New Zealand where he found himself living for a substantial period. Whilst there, he played an untold number of gigs which increased his experience of performing live. This being his third album, his large legion of fans will surely be delighted as well as those who have yet to hear his work.

With a faster beat than some on this twelve-track release, Carry Me Home includes some rambling picking which I’m sure every country fan appreciates and wouldn’t be out of place if played on a 1970s Dire Straits album. By the first few moments of Rakaia you seem to understand what John is all about;
Picking superiority. What seems like both an acoustic guitar and banjo, the instrumental work is certainly not wasted as they are the perfect accompaniment to John’s unmistakably croaky yet by all means enticing vocals. This track is that fine it should be recorded by either an East Nashville resident or one of the Austin-based bands as it certainly deserves to be heard by as many people as possible. A quite groovy tune it is, Nowhere To Go has both blues elements about it but has the advantage of keeping true to its country and Americana roots by revving the awesome button all the way up to eleven; a toe-tapper, crowd pleaser of a song it sure is.

As John spent quite a large amount of his life earning himself a substantial number of fans in New Zealand, I’m confident that if he relocated to the land of our American cousins further and even great success would be heading his way.
- Maverick


SINGER-SONGTWRITER John Alexander takes a central starting point – let’s call it “roots” – then pushes and pulls in various blues/folk/country directions; definitions aside, this is undoubtedly an album of which T-Bone Burnett would approve.

Alexander’s style is international in its string-picking dimensions (think Robert Johnson by way of Mark Knopfler) but with a bit of west-coast, post-industrial grit in its throat.

The acoustic slide guitar work opener Making Waves is exemplary, while the banjo plucks on following track Skin come as much from sitting around a three-bar electric fire in Glasgow as a campfire in Appalachia. Alexander achieves a fine balance between voice and guitar, crafting tunes that aren’t overly intricate, emphasising mood over melody. And that’s just how the blues should be. - The Sunday Herald


Alexander puts his virtuoso skills on slide and acoustic
guitar to fine use on this collection of tunes that will
create a righteous dustbowl around your stereo. - Guitar & Bass Magazine


John Alexander plays acoustic blues steeped in the influence of everyone from Kelly Joe Phelps, Muddy Waters, John Martyn, Greg Brown and hints of Bruce Springsteen

Roots-blues played with passion, and recorded simply in an old church on the shores of Loch Torridon in the Scottish Highlands and a back room of a South Glasgow tenement flat see Alexander’s gritty vocal style aided by accomplished acoustic guitar picking. Plus, there is a little banjo as he repeatedly hits a noteworthy benchmark. A standard regularly achieved by the likes of Kelly Joe Phelps and UK folk blues act, Johnny Dickinson. Intimate and warm, Alexander produces a series of mighty tunes as with the ‘Going Gone’. Where his vocals possess shades of Springsteen on a good day and ‘Bridges Of Kings’ that captures the romantic beauty of where mountains meet the sea, sandy beaches and poetic imagery set to leave you transfixed.

Alexander, though Scottish through and through, had to travel to the other side of the world to New Zealand for the music that was in him to be nurtured and grow, and now it seems there is no limit to what he can do or where it may take him. Of the twelve self-penned songs ‘Early Rise’ steeped in slide guitar coupled with its persuasive melody emanating great calming qualities and a beauty you yearn to hear it again and again. Coupled the Dickinson-esque ‘Nowhere To Go’ and hot to go, guitar picked, banjo and harmony vocals boosted well textured ‘Rakaia’ are as good as it gets.

As an entire body of work ‘Rain For Sale’ has a great deal to offer — to the degree it would take a good number more lines than I have written to cover adequately.
- Americana-UK.com


John Alexander delivers his songs in a distinctively earthy, well-travelled American brogue, a reverential affection in the tradition of Glasgow singers from Lonnie Donegan to Annie Ross and Frankie Miller. Guitar-country and Delta blues styles knowledgably tempered with folk picking are underscored by classical guitar training, the writing mightily impressive, each song a beguiling story.

Stylistically the album veers from laid-back boondocks haze (‘Making Waves’, a delightful southern blues that hits my sweet spot), to enticing bluegrass guitar and hillbilly banjo plucking (‘Skin’), to cooling, rolling-and-tumbling, circular and simple motifs(‘Silver & Blue’).’Sway’ is a drop dead beautiful, bittersweet waltz ballad for an unobtainable love, and ‘Saints & Sinners’ places Alexander back in his native No Mean City Glasgow of glory days past, of deserted shipyards, yet of hope. I could go on, but it’s far better that you discover these delights for yourself; this is superb.
- Rock N Reel


Glaswegian Alexander's lilting acoustic blues are inspired by his troubadour travels aroung the world. Careworn tunes and his dust-choked voice give a timeless feel to his songs. - Q Magazine


Although this EP contains only four songs, you get the feeling that it also encapsulates everything that makes John Alexander that little bit special. Alexander is a writer and singer of mature and seasoned songs, all of the tracks on ’24-7’ have been soaked in the brine of experience. It has given them an integrity that would be impossible to find if John Alexander didn’t believe in every part of what he’s written. But they are four distinct and separate songs that demand a specific understanding: ‘I Will Be’ is a clear-headed if personal view of his and our heritage. If you said that it was an overview of industrial decline it would sound dry but Alexander brings humanity to his music. ’24-7’ is folk music at its very, very, best, passionate without being mawkish, written from the heart without being sentimental. As you listen and eventually wonder at the beauty of the four masterpieces on ’24-7’, say a prayer of thanks that there are still musicians like John Alexander around to remind us of the unstoppable power of real music. - Blues Matters


John Alexander chose to follow his love of music after finding a new sense of freedom on a trip to New Zealand in 2000. He got a folk duo off the ground and gigged his way around what felt like 'every barn and outhouse in the south island.' His debut appeared in 2004 and since then he's been busy finding himself an audience over here. Even though this feels more substantial 24-7 is a short affair with just four tracks.

The CD case is covered on sepia photography and the music within reveals plenty of sepia tones too. Even with a hometown of Glasgow somewhere along the line lots of haunting Americana has rubbed off on him. In fact it would be easy to slap a Townes Van Zant label on him but that would be telling only part of the story. To bring things up to date he could be sandwiched between Johnny Dowd And Damien Jurado.

The brooding opener 'When The Wind Blows' kicks things off in fine style with some strong prophetic imagery. The title track keeps the momentum going coming on like a lost 30's country blues. It's gently surging chorus settles nicely in the memory and it is a good indication of his strengths.

Lyrically you can hardly call these tracks optimistic but there's redemtion around the corner for those prepared to put in the required work on 'Don't Give It Up.' On the closer 'I Will Be' John sings with the same eloquence and respect for the working man as Springsteen can when he proclaims about the north's shipbuilders, 'Part of us you'll find from the Clyde to the Tyne, silver river roaming free.'

John Alexander has coupled an articulate guitar style and a melodiously seasoned voice on this release and it's well worth your attention.

David Kushar
www.Spiral Earth.co.uk
- David Kushar spiralearth.co.uk


“There is a real appeal in hearing a Scottish singer - songwriter using
his country's geography, as the Americans have done down through the
years, to focus on a song and to relate words, music and identity. John
Alexander does this with some ease”
- Iain Anderson BBC Radio Scotland


‘a fabulously assured song that’s clearly the product of considerable talent and surefooted craftsmanship. Packed with wonderfully-realised imagery, the well-honed lyrics sustain a compelling narrative flow that’s expertly complemented by the music. The theme itself, of course, is one that chimes perfectly with the political side of the Burns canon. And thought it articulates its point firmly the song maintains a poetic integrity that bears repeated listening. Superbly evocative and excellent overall.

I’d also like to comment the presentation of this song. The vocal is spell binding, the guitar-playing magical. These outstanding performances have been beautifully engineered and recorded. An absolute treat to listen to”

Burnsong
- Burnsong


Discography

Rain For Sale 2009
24-7 EP 2006
Waiting For Now 2004

Photos

Bio

Glasgow songwriter John Alexander started out as a classical guitarist before his love of blues and country music got the better of him. Alexander’s musical journey has seen him disappearing for several years from the Northern Hemisphere to the sunnier climate of New Zealand. Basing himself in Christchurch in the South Island John followed various musical pursuits in the local music scene. These circles lead to John gaining vast live experience where he performed at what seemed like every bar, barn and outhouse in The South Island. After recording his debut Album ‘Waiting for Now’ in 2004 with local artists, John upped roots and returned to his hometown of Glasgow.

Rain For Sale is his latest full length CD, released in 2009. A collection of landscape, life and weather inspired songs all written and instrumented solely by Alexander. The album was showcased with a headline performance at the o2 Academy as part of the 2009 No Mean City Festival in Glasgow.

Life in his native country as well as experiences of living in New Zealand and travel throughout the USA form much of the inspiration behind his songs. Described as “Dustbowl blues with a Glasgow kick”, Alexander’s influences (Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, John Martyn, Greg Brown and The John Butler Trio) show themselves in his soulful lyrics, strong guitar licks and storytelling skills. His previous releases have been well received and new album, ‘Rain for Sale’, looks set to bring this unique and talented artist the recognition he deserves.

Alexander’s performing schedule has seen him open for Newton Faulkner, Karine Polwart, Glenn Tilbrook, Martin Simpson and several US based songwriters including Grammy nominee Darrell Scott as well as appearances at Celtic Connections.