John Alexander “Face The Wind”

Independent, 2023

Dark and gritty Glaswegian Americana.

Scottish singer-songwriter John Alexander’s shows at the Edinburgh Fringe were entitled ‘Dustbowl Blues with a Glasgow kick’. It sums up the vein and texture of this album perfectly. It is a moody, atmospheric collection that fits together extremely well.  He lists his influences as among others John Martyn, Bob Dylan, and Muddy Waters strands of which can definitely be heard here throughout. Scotland meets the American plains. His voice has a husky quality to it and throughout the standard of the musicianship is excellent and nicely sparse.

The production by Boo Hewerdine is nicely understated adding to the generally dark and menacing sensation. No more so than on the brooding stand-out track ‘Blood in The Water’ “The blood in the water tastes so sweet. Blood in the water ankle deep”. The slightly distorted guitar adds to the overall feeling of threat and maybe even danger.

‘Bullets in the Rain’ is a beautiful poignant song in which the John Martyn influence can definitely be heard: “I don’t taste the poison that seeps through my veins… bullets in the rain make me fall down and die”. The female vocal accompaniment on the track certainly adds to the whole. The blues influence can certainly be heard in ‘Fault and Blame’ with its slide guitar prevalent. It is the track that injects the most momentum into the album which could be a little one-paced for some initially.

So while it may not be an album that hits you between the ears on first listening, but it is a definite grower and well worth staying with. In ‘White Noise’ he invites you “to step outside if you dare, break the rules and see who cares”. It’s precisely this attitude that makes careful listening to ‘Face The Wind’ an extremely worthwhile and ultimately rewarding experience.

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