“”Alexi P (for ‘Paraschos’) has a few things in common with Justin Timberlake. He’s got a mind-bending falsetto with a wide range, a love for vocal solos, and looks damned good in a formal vest. That’s about it. So now that we’ve dispelled the need for comparison to something, let’s get started.
Livin A Lie bridges, somewhat politically, the tragedy of Trayvon Martin and the origins of western slavery. It’s a connection made poignantly, but one might wonder: what business is it of his? Why is a white guy from New England singing about racial inequality on such a personal level? Play My Music, featuring a 30 second kind-of-psychedelic gospel swell, is a good place to start investigating.
Next stop, internets! Further investigation (a.k.a. Googling his name) will reveal that Alexi is a choral director, piano teacher, and has contributed to all manner of gospel and soul music events and organizations since adolescence. He sounds like a pretty sweet guy, but what exactly is he all about?
Alexi Paraschos is not just a musician. Music is an integral part of what makes him who he is. A lot of people feel passionate about music but, speaking as someone who has chosen to make it a career, I can tell you there are certain people who need it just as much as blood or the air that vitalizes it. Alexi Paraschos, if nothing else, has a clear and cerebral connection with every bit of his music.
The first sentence of the bio on his website mentions ‘Marvin and Stevie’ (Gaye and Wonder, by first name only). Around the time Here to stay (the fourth song) rolls around it is clear that the allegories found throughout his music to these men are more than simply juxtaposition; he takes them everywhere he goes… they are, through music, extensions of his core.
Having said that, you probably want to hear about the music. It’s pretty damned good. You’re going to hear just about anything that a 2-10 piece band (it varies) plus or minus a choir can faithfully play for their concept. Gospel Piano ballad Something Greater (both slow and fast) cascades into neo-soul gumbo with shakers and church choir sassafras.
He is a man possessed by whatever it is he pours himself into.
The booming title track gives way to In Love, which mends the spirit with a slow, quiet groove after such an intense buildup. Heart of Gold backs that up with some more slowjam-style piano/bass driven whisper. All the while Alexi wholeheartedly hums, belts, cries, screams, shouts, and wails.
His range is nothing but impressive, and his command of it respectable. While dynamic and well-controlled, he does display some weak spots where he sounds nasally or stiff, but for the most part he remains crisp and smooth. Able to pull off everything (literally everything) between a whisper and a scream, he lays it emphatically on a wide palette of grooves.
After the purifying lull of the early middle tracks the album picks right back up where it left off: foot-tapping jams full of energy and experimentation. Willing With You and Carry On display a certain vigor that can be hard to find these days in pop stars. Now, Alexi is no pop star (not yet anyway), but he sings songs as a means to share and grow outwardly… if we aren’t talking about commercial success (which I’m not), isn’t that what a benevolent pop star is for? In fact, Carry On kind of hit me on the head and dumped a pile of introspective on my head. I won’t tell you what about, I’ll let you experience that yourself. Also there is a SWEEEET SPANISH GUITAR going absolutely nuts for like the whole song. And a horn section.
So as I’m listening to Carry On (seriously, even if this album is not something you would be interested in, listen to this song) for the third time in a row trying to hammer out this review, another wave of revelation hits me. You see, I was supposed to write this review about a week ago, but I just couldn’t think of where to start. In brutal honesty, I really didn’t like it. I don’t listen to anything you could classify it as, and I kind of looked down on it.
You may notice that everything before the last two paragraphs doesn’t really seem like the thoughts and feelings of a writer who doesn’t like something. Well, I set it down for a week and when I came back, probably in a better mood, I found an album that had slept on me. I guess after a week of living, good and bad, re approaching it I found I could relate more to not just what he was going for, but how and most importantly where.
You may also notice I got off track while I was critiquing the music; the two are related. To say that he is going for something or other isn’t fair, and should be left to him to describe, but let’s say that he’s going for soul, pop, gospel, and R&B. Well, one might argue in today’s world, it’s hard to imagine gaining traction like you could in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s playing that amalgam of music. I’m sure those art forms are still very well alive in many places, but this album is a throwback. A throwback to performers dripping with sweat, unleashing their inner desires and demons in front of a disciplined full band.
The most distinct, applicable, and telling thing I can say about Alexi Paraschos’ music, is that he is a man dripping with that proverbial sweat, and unleashing a part of himself in front of a real band. The style, genre, sound, whatever, takes a back seat to the emotion. Fittingly, this work will not floor you with its musical aptitude or arrangement, only a few parts (both instrumental and vocal) are incredible, and the production value is modest but not astonishing. However, if you give it a chance, there are moments in which he and his supporting musicians will inspire.
I can’t really say much else about it, as it’s one of those albums that you just have to listen to in order to get a clear picture of what’s really going on. Paraschos has a respectable cast of supporting musicians, enough motivation to get the most out of them, and a high ceiling for potential. This is a freshman album and it sounds like one. In order to make something truly greater (
Record Label: ?
Album Length: 14 tracks, 59 minutes 30 seconds
Release Date: February, 2014
Roster: A full roster is not given for this album
Artist Website: http://www.alexisongs.com
Direct link to stream: https://soundcloud.com/
1. Intro (0:56)
2. Play My Music (4:04)
3. I Love You (2:52)
4. Here To Stay (4:16)
5. Something Greater (3:53)
6. Something Greater #2 (4:24)
7. In Love (3:52)
8. Heart Of Gold (5:33)
9. Willing With You (3:26)
10. Livin A Lie (5:11)
11. Someday (5:20)
12. Carry On (5:12)
13. Enough (6:40)
14. Believe (Live) (3:45)
Written By: Bryan Peterson