I was recently asked by a friend to critique Alex Band’s new album, “We’ve All Been There.” As I sat down to think about what to write, while listening (it would seem for the thousandth time) to this work of art, the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that the music evoked in me seemed to flow naturally. After reading my reply to her, not only did she immediately buy the CD, but said I should share my thoughts. I hope you will enjoy the journey you are about to embark on with me as I do my best to explain how I feel about each song and what I see in each masterpiece of lyrical and musical genius that is Alex Band.
As a whole, the album seems to take the listener through a personal journey of love, heartache, loss, new beginnings, and self-realization with the overtones of spiritual guidance and healing throughout the entire experience. Alex’s songwriting is unique, however, in that his lyrics can be interpreted in several different ways and on different levels. In saying that, I’d like to express that this album also seems to speak to the listener on a higher level and in generalities that can be applied to life’s lessons and our humanity as a whole. In my opinion, there aren’t many songwriters out there who can achieve this, and I believe Alex’s superb songwriting is second to none.
The first song and title track, We’ve All Been There, is a perfect opening as well as a preview of the album’s story that Alex is about to share with the listener. The upbeat tempo and commanding U2-esque tones that are paired with lyrics such as “I’m doing what I can” and “All I know is that I have myself” seem to give the listener a sense of strength and understanding/bonding with Alex, as he is conveying that we’ve all been through battles in life, and although we may feel as though we are fighting these battles alone, in reality no one is alone in his or her life journey as “we’ve all been there and done that” in one way or another. This powerful song gives the listener a sense of trust in Alex, in that he would be your best friend who would truly listen and empathize with the struggles you are going through, as he has fought and survived his own struggles as well.
The listener is then treated to the epic ballad, What is Love, which appears to be the song of self-examination, housing one of the most profound yet simple lyrics, “You can’t get what you give if you don’t give what you get” describing, in its simplest form, the circle of life and love. “What is love? I think we’re starting to forget” seems to be the general feeling of how humanity and, most likely, our Higher Power are viewing the sad state of this world and this generation fraught with war, cruelty, selfishness, and greed (for power and money) rather than respect, kindness, selflessness, and understanding.
Next comes the current hit, Tonight, which tells the listener a beautiful and sensual story about true love in its most romantic form. “Closer, I can tell you anything. You’re the song that I sing.” No further explanation needed. Trust and love….pure and simple.
In Forever Yours, Alex continues to express his feelings about love and of the giving of oneself completely to another. Despite the struggles and hardships love can present, nothing is more important than the bond of true love that two people share. “It’s the way that you love me, the way that you touch me. I’m forever yours. It’s the way that you move me, you give yourself to me. I’m forever yours.” …..Truly poetic, sensual, and beautiful.
Despite every song on this album being a masterful work of art, Please is truly consuming and addictive. This is Alex’s plea to a Higher Power asking for help and guidance to give him what he needs to make it through his own personal conflicts. The chorus is heart-pounding and resonates in my mind constantly….”If love is a temple, then hope is a church, that binds everybody, like the spine of a book, filled with pages that cannot be turned. If we’re here for a reason, then the reason is ours to know, but you say that it’s better, to not know why together, we keep living on and weather the storm.”
Will Not Back Down is my absolute favorite song on this album (at least while I’m writing this), and appears to have been Alex’s personal anthem when things in his life were coming undone, as well as his Higher Power’s answer to his plea for help in the aforementioned “Please.” This song is sweeping, emotional, apologetic, heartfelt, and full of tenacity. There is an incredible climax with Alex’s vocals, and simply put, it is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.
This leads into a beautiful waltz entitled Euphoria, which is uplifting and poetic. It is a song of hope and spirituality, encouraging the listener in times of despair to just breathe and take one day at a time; to listen to your heart, to feel the warmth and hear the voice of your Higher Power, filling you with an overwhelming sense of love to help you make it through.
Never Let You Go is one of those songs that I have interpreted several different ways. On the surface, it appears to be Alex’s last ditch effort to try and hold onto a love that is lost, but if you dig a little deeper, you can hear and feel the overwhelming sensuality and romantic undertones of a love he is longing for (perhaps from long ago or another lifetime): ”….and I remember the way you taste, the smell of your skin, the touch of your face. I will never, ever, ever let you go….” However, the more I have listened to this multi-layered song, the more apparent it has become to me that this is also a song about one’s Higher Power and the relentless pursuit of that Higher Power to never let one go: “And when you can’t go on, and you fear you won’t survive, you can turn to me, I’ll be here right by your side…..I’ll hold you close, you’ll help me stand, on my own two feet again….” Definitely powerful.
The musicality in Only One is breathtaking and contains sounds reminiscent of rippling water, but the lyrics are truly masterful. The way Alex describes the emotion of crying is painfully beautiful: “My eyes are painted red, the canvas of my soul, is slowly breaking down, again.” The premise of this song is that we only have “one life to live, one love to give, one chance to keep from falling.” It’s pretty evident to me that Alex is saying it may behoove us to get it right the first time around. Right on, Alex!
Leave (Today is the Day) actually pains me to listen to it, but the song is so beautifully written that I can’t help but listen to it. (What a conundrum!) Lyrics like “But under the sand, you became stone, and I couldn’t carry all the weight, you crushed me to the bone”……”well look at my soul, you’re bleeding me dry, like a thousand stars falling down, there’s no more tears to cry…” are haunting and poetic, and one can virtually feel the pain in Alex’s heart as he wrote and sang this song.
Following the heart-wrenching “Leave” is a song of hope, renewal and strength, called Holding On. I’ll let the lyrics speak for themselves: “And now I’m dancing alone in the moonlight, closing my eyes, it just feels right, letting my heart lead the way”…..”And now I’m breaking away from the crowd, I wanna just scream aloud, hey, no one can stand in my way….”
Once again, the master of music shines in a song about the resiliency of the human heart!
In Without You, the listener is gifted with another song bearing U2-esque overtones. This song is catchy and bold, and it expresses the hardships of trying to start over again while reminiscing about better times. “Those were the best days of my life, those were the memories that will never die…..I’m doing the best that I can do, without you.” As an aside, this is the follow-up single released in the U.S., and I have high hopes that it will do very well with our devoted support!
The second to last song on the album, entitled Love, builds to a crescendo that involves a magnificent choir. This seems appropriate given that this is Alex’s ode to the power of love and how we are able to heal within its embrace….”Cause it’s love that keeps us alive, when we’re broken down inside, well it’s you that I can trust, when there’s nothing left, well I know I’m blessed, it’s love”….”I’m not giving up, this feels good enough, I’m blessed with love.” Beautifully expressed!
The last song on the album, Start Over Again, bears not only lovely melodies and lyrics, but a kick-ass (can I say that?) climax of a guitar riff. The musicality is a reflection of the rhythms of life, and its ups and downs. “Life can bring you down, then turn you around”…..”Life can bring you up, then steal your luck…..”Well, just take it from me, and you will see….that time will tell us when, to start again, start over again….” Interestingly, the album ends with Alex crooning the words “start over again,” which is exactly what you want to do. Thank goodness for the replay button! Thank God for Alex Band! Thank you, Alex, for giving us your gift of beautiful music!