Rob Alexander bring us “Back to the Radio” from his collection Long Road Coming Home draws numerous comparisons to Elton John with its adult contemporary sound and focus on melodic virtues. Despite his primary career as a medical doctor, Alexander isn’t any sort of dilettante. Instead, “Back to the Radio” reveals that his musical gifts harbor the potential to be every bit as considerable as his medical talents.
His work with producer Gabe Lopez, an industry figure whose enhanced work from artists as diverse as Boyz II Men and Belinda Carlisle, elevates “Back to the Radio” several notches without ever calling undue attention to itself. There’s a powerful intimacy and warmth surrounding this performance that will win over a wide gamut of music fans and keep them coming back for more. Rob Alexander’s immense talents are no accident and will likely develop at an exponential pace from here.
Lopez’s contributions to the song as its producer are audible from the first. The seamless integration of multiple guitar tracks, drums, bass, backing vocals, and Alexander’s own voice is handled with a balanced and astute hand that makes the arrangement as much of a star as Alexander’s own performance. The guitar sound is warm and has a slight crunch, but lays down melodic lines with assorted fills thrown in for added color along the way.
Alexander doesn’t position the drums in the way we’d ordinarily hear from an outright rock track and there’s good reason for that; despite any muscle he’s exerting here, “Back to the Radio” definitely plants a proud flag in the AOR camp and has a fresh sound in spite of the fact. He adopts that approach without a hint of irony circa 2018 and makes you believe, no matter how skeptical, through the sheer impassioned nature of his writing and performance. The construction pays off for listeners time and again while the length never overreaches.
His singing is perfectly orchestrated to the song’s needs. There’s a steadily rising sense of stakes that his voice brings to a rousing climax with the track’s chorus but never neglects to invest the lyrics with considered phrasing responsive to the song’s demands. He’s never showy. The truism that it’s the notes a musician doesn’t play that matters more than those they do, it’s always more telling of talent when a singer opts to back off and not fill the song with their presence and, instead, let the proverbial music do the talking for them.
Rob Alexander brings every inch of himself to bear on the song “Back to the Radio” while still maintaining an obvious vulnerability and common ground with listeners quite unlike much of what you’ll hear from the modern music world. This is an obvious choice for the lead off song and first single associated with Alexander’s Long Road Coming Home and will make a big impact on listeners.
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-review by Scottie Carlito