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Teague Alexy is known around the area for his years as a singer/songwriter and his work in the band Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank with his brother Ian. In his latest CD release titled “This Dance,” it is quite apparent that he has developed a sound that pulls upon things that could be compared to artists like Bob Dylan in songwriting and genre but on this album he shines through with his own unique feel as well. The album hinges heavily on deep and meaningful lyrics that remain accessible and there are plenty of interesting and well done things happening with the instruments and recording process that emerge in the songs. The sound that he creates has a sense of timelessness to it. It’s almost as if this album were released 30 years ago or 30 years from now, it’d still hold it’s own.
The first track, “The Raggedy Hat of John Henry,” has an easy going simplicity to it but it’s refreshing and wise as many of the other tracks of the album are. “As sure as the mountain is high, as sure as time goes by, there’s nothing left to do but everything I can,” Alexy sings in the first line of the song. The song is accented by pretty and effective lead guitar and harmonica parts.
“Riding on a Ferris Wheel” steps up the tempo a little bit and is bordering on country and pop. Again there is some cool lead guitar and harmonica that is going on over a driving kick drum that thumps through out the song. Slight hints of what sounds like violin and even a synth very subtly sparkle through toward the end of the song but they just add the slightest amount of an interesting feel and it was put down in a way if they were driving through the whole song, they could have been distracting, but this isn’t the case.
The third track, “The Palm of a Pretty Girl” has a county/waltz feel to it. The fiddle is very pleasing and the female vocal harmonies really make the song, I also enjoyed the vibrato effect of the guitar in it.
The song “Quarter to Four” has a cool country/rock groove to it that includes a cool main guitar riff that uses two guitars panned out in stereo and has a neat slide guitar with an airy effect on it in the back that holds back but adds to the song. The song cuts back to a part where Alexy speaks a part of the verse, his voice is slightly muffled and midrangy versus his vocals in the other parts of the song, “I thought I overheard her say something to the effect that the demons inside her were just angels who had the night off,” said Alexy in part of this interesting breakdown. Although there is an old-timey feel to the album, Alexy does bring in some contemporary guitar effects and recording techniques that might not have been used in yesteryear.
The song “Some Kind of Fool” is a song about the usual situation of putting oneself out there in the game of life and love. “Anything but the girl or the heartbreak, ain’t nothing but a suckers pride, it takes some kind of fool,” sings Alexy in this easy paced and catchy country/pop tune.
I really loved the intricate and light guitar riff in the song “Mainline.” The slide guitar is more heavily accented and there is a clean and pretty banjo that is plucked in parts of the song. None of the instruments override any part of the song and they are all blended together very well and they pop up and ease back right where they should and it goes to show that some thought must have gone into this album.
The thing that immediately stands out about the track “All the Way Long Gone” is the percussion. While some of the songs use what sounds like a regular drum kit, and there is a drum kit in this song, there is what sounds like a tambourine and handclaps that hold up through out. The guitar parts are laid back but slightly funky which makes the song fun to listen to.
Likewise the song “I Will Shovel Your Doorway” has a light maraca/shaker that lightly accents the drum kit.
The final track “For When All Your Friends Have Gone” is thoughtful and soothing track that flows with a sorrowful but easygoing air. It’s light and sentimental and a nice way to end off this album.
Overall Alexy creates an experience that is somehow timeless yet utilizes modern day nuances. Nothing is overdone on this CD, it just fits together almost perfectly. The one thing I didn’t really get to much into is the lyrics of this album. It’s truly poetry and I’m uncertain if my analysis or writing about it could fully express what’s going on. There is a decent amount of metaphor and illustrations used that I’d of had to have Teague himself explain. Although the lyrics are deep in ways, there is still something totally human and accessible about them.
The recording of this album is terrific; everything is where it should be and more. The album was produced by local/regional musician Erik Koskinen at Real-Phonic studios in Minneapolis. I typically listen to albums with headphones to better be able to discern the spectrum of the stereo experience and there are certainly fun and cool things going on throughout. This album is a great addition to local music and can be easily enjoyed by most any music lover.
Teague will be playing with his brother with the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank in at the Ashland Folk Festival at Northland College on Sunday, May 13 and will be playing his own material at Beaner’s Central in West Duluth on Friday, May 18.