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Rob Alexander drops second single from latest LP

There aren’t very many songwriters alive today that can lay as much of a claim to the current state of pop music like Elton John can, and in Rob Alexander’s “Friend of Mine (Elton’s Epic),” (the second release from his latest LP) we get to experience the full impact of the prolific performer’s influence through the work of a truly unique up and comer out of the underground. Rob Alexander has been issuing one tour de force after another in the last couple of years, with his most recent record Being Myself raking in some of the strongest response so far, and if you’re looking to understand why he’s got the reputation for making hits as he does, you’ll want to hear its second official single in “Friend of Mine (Elton’s Epic).” Packed with the genuinely haunting harmonic textures that have become synonymous with the Elton John brand (though not quite identical in nature), this is a song that shows us how much two artists can take from one another without ever copying a single note.

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Alexander is careful to avoid a lot of the grandiosities that have plagued his peers in this single, and his anti-liberal approach to the arrangement in particular works brilliantly for this material. The bassline has little to no edge, which makes it much easier for us to feel the depth of the percussion’s groove without ever absorbing the bottom-end tones more than we actually want to. The mix favors the vocal at the front of the track, but the strings get just as much love from the EQ when the chorus falls into place. Every element of the song has been structured as to keep us on the edge of our seats, constantly wondering what’s going to come next, and while it makes for a milder rollercoaster in “Friend of Mine (Elton’s Epic)” than it does for other tracks on the Being Myself record, it’s an endearing effect that I haven’t encountered a lot outside of Rob Alexander’s work in 2020. He wanted us to feel every inch of sonic intensity he could muster here, but in doing so, he wanted to steer clear of aesthetical overindulgence at the same time.

I had a lot of expectations coming into my review of “Friend of Mine (Elton’s Epic),” but I’m happy to say that Alexander surpassed all of them with the sublimely appealing work that he released here. He’s growing into his sound beautifully, and though he definitely isn’t the most experimental artist on the block right now, he’s showing us that he’s not afraid to roll the dice a little bit and try things that other artists in the underground and mainstream alike just wouldn’t be comfortable doing. Elton John might have set the gold standard decades ago, but for Rob Alexander, trying to reach the same commercial pedigree John did isn’t even the goal; instead, it’s merely trying to inspire people in the same way that his hero has and still does. It’s commendable, whether you’re a fan of his work or simply a passerby the same.

John McCall

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