Monday, 13 April 2009

Alexander Wolfe - "Morning Brings A Flood"

In the beginning.....

The genesis of our tale begins in the snow-covered French Alps back in the eleventh century when the now legendary Bernard of Menthon roamed the slopes with his alpine hounds looking for lost and stranded travellers to rescue and to guide safely to a waiting mountainside hospice. Bernard was made a Saint for his selfless acts and his trusty four-legged companions inherited his name.
St Bernard lived at the Chateau de Menthon and this spectacular castle has remained home to the incumbent Count de Menthon and his family for over 1000 years.

Cut to the middle of the twentieth century and enter Betty Wolfe, Canadian-born cabaret singer - herself a direct descendant of General James Wolfe, who defeated the French at Quebec two hundred years earlier to win Canada for the British Empire. Betty met and fell in love with le Comte de Menthon during his military service and they began a love affair and together bore 3 children. When the affair ended Betty and her three children were left to fend for themselves. Years later their daughter Anne moved to London where she eventually married and settled in Woolwich to raise a family.

A few years later, Anne and family received word that Count de Menthon had passed away, and in his last will and testament he acknowledged Anne and left her gifts of extravagant French artefacts, antique furniture and money. To her son Alexander he left an original Rembrandt print (the family had patronised the artist three centuries earlier). The money enabled Anne to move the family into a slightly bigger home in South East London and she bought Alexander his first guitar.

Alexander spent his formative years experimenting with music, bands and writing songs and he was becoming more and more serious about his art. Music was fast becoming his life and he soaked up as much as possible. Inspired by everyone from Captain Beefheart to Joni Mitchell, Velvet Underground to Curtis Mayfield, he became convinced that he had found something he could offer, to be remembered for.

During this period his beloved grandmother Betty passed away and Alexander took on her surname and resolved to pursue a solo career, writing and sculpting his sound and future as an artist.
Alexander was born just as the music industry was coming to terms with the nascent CD format and so he embarked on a voyage of musical discovery where influences are writ large on his own work. He sold the Rembrandt print, the only thing he owned of value, to buy equipment for the home studio he needed to begin making his debut album “Morning Brings A Flood”. From art to art. Quid pro quo.

He managed to beg, steal & borrow extra studio time to put down the drums with a friend called Steve Pilgrim, (formally of Liverpool band The Stands, now playing with ex-La John Power & Paul Weller). All the other instruments (except the strings & horns) were played & recorded by Alexander in various places, from attics in New Cross to basements in Brick Lane. Everybody who worked on the record did it for the love of the music or a bottle of rum, from the string players to the engineers.

The songs are an eclectic mix; from the twisted waltz opener 'Prague Song' through the white-knuckle punk of 'Movement' to the hushed heartbreaker 'Stuck Under September', but there is a unique common thread running throughout. As eclectic as the songs are, you will know you are listening to Alexander Wolfe. It's clear that this is something quite special and it has more in common perhaps with Nick Drake, Tom Waits and Neil Young than any of today's current crop of singer songwriters.

His voice is reminiscent at times of Nick Drake and the music has drawn comparisons as disparate as John Martyn and Pink Floyd to Pete Doherty and Neil Young. He’s a singer songwriter but it’s not a folk record. He plays a mean guitar but it’s not a rock record. It is, however, a great record and one which demands your attention. Your efforts will be rewarded a thousandfold. You’ll hear songs the like of which have not been written for many years - this is a record you will want to listen to again. And again. It’s an album in the old fashioned sense of the word but it has given birth to an artist who’s songwriting and creative range will doubtless cement the name Alexander Wolfe into the history books of the future. Discover it now.

For the moment you can keep your eye on the ball through his websites.