Written By: James Swigart
Label: 429 Records – Rating:
Art Alexakis has an unique and potent voice that he uses refreshingly and heartily on Everclear’s warm and engaging In a Different Light. On this disc, Alexakis and his crack band remake 9 of Everclear’s biggest hits and compose 2 new tunes. The new songs, “Here Comes the Darkness” and “At the End of the Day,” are excellent and blend seamlessly with the others. Alexakis produced In a Different Light (Like all Everclear records) and his production is brilliantly similar to that of one of rock’s legends, Jeff Lynne.
On In a Different Light, Alexakis sings with the distinction and restrained force of such masters as Cash, Reed, and Dylan. Art’s voice is smooth like Don Henley’s and distinctive like David Lee Roth’s. Alexakis doesn’t show the greatest vocal range, but his passion and talent are clear and more than make up for a few high notes here and there.
“Father of Mine” has the pace of Wild Gift and More Fun in the New World-era X. Acoustic guitar, drums, serious keys, and vocals drive the song. The backing vocals are muted and subtle and create a fantastic effect. Tommy Stewart’s drumming throughout the album is forceful and consistent like that of X’s amazing DJ Bonebrake.
On “Fire Maple Song,” there is a beautiful little Stevie Ray Vaughan-esque guitar solo. The guitar chords are reminiscent of Johnny Marr’s while Marr was with the Smiths. Davey French and Alexakis play guitar throughout the album. “Rock Star” is a guitar driven medium rock song with a message that we love and respect and with excellent backing vocals and sonic force that bring to mind the Traveling Wilburys.
“Learning How to Smile” has backing vocals that sound like Exene at her most subtle and powerful. The lyrics “I was working in New Jersey/Hitching Rides in the Rain” bring to mind the everyman quality shown by great artists like Holly, Cash, Dylan, Springsteen, Cobain, and White. Typical of the songs on this album, the music never strains or gets too fast or too slow and Alexakis’s singing is near perfect. This song relaxes us so much that we could listen to this and similar tunes for hours on end.
“I Will Buy You a New Life” shows Everclear at its best. Beautiful guitar and keys, restrained, powerful vocals and drums, and positive lyrics make us feel what the best rock ‘n’ roll wants us to feel – uplifted, renewed, and relaxed. Alexakis, like Cuomo and the beyond legendary Cash, makes us viscerally feel his message without straining or yelling.
The backing vocals on “Everything to Everyone,” “Wonderful,” and “At the End of the Day” are essential like those on early records by the Babys. The acoustic guitar chords combined with keys on “Everything to Everyone” keep us engaged without overwhelming or boring us. Josh Crawley’s keys on In a Different Light are wonderful like Ray Manzarek’s while he was with the Doors and on X’s album of staggering genius, Los Angeles. Sam Hudson’s bass playing is understated and keeps an excellent beat throughout.
The mood on this fine work is relaxed, playful, and swinging. We wish that at times Everclear rocked harder or swung freer. We also wish that there was greater variety among the songs. However, Alexakis and his mates’ consistency and commitment is laudable.
Art Alexakis is one of the most important figures in rock over the last fifteen years. He continues to evolve and to try to bring relevant music to our fortunate ears. His subtle yet powerful excellence is all too rare in rock and extraordinarily influential. Here’s to hoping that he ages as well as Dylan has.
Want more Everclear?
Download Everclear’s “Here Comes The Darkness“
Everclear Feature – 10 Reasons Why Everclear is Still Relevant
Rock/Metal Editor, Jason Coldiron interviews Art Alexakis
Everclear Tour News
View all of Ed’s Everclear Photos (Roxy)
View All of Ed’s Everclear Photos (House of Blues)