Early last year Alex Dezen, former front man and founder of the Brooklyn based,The Damnwells, released his self-titled solo album. A catchy, lyrically honest and diverse debut that captured Dezen’s artistic ability to sing stories that we all can point to and say, “I remember a time like that.” Written and recorded entirely at his home in Los Angeles, California, between January 1 and February 18, 2015, those extremely personal songs were much different than his Damnwells days of old.
So here we are just under a year later and Dezen is set to release II, his second solo album on February 3rd. Having had the pleasure to spend some time with the album, I found myself pleasantly surprised, because unlike his first solo record, II has a very different sound musically. For instance, the opening track “Follow Your Heart” has a top-40 pop beat before a Carlos Santana-esque guitar lick kicks the track into gear and Dezens charcoal voice starts us on our journey.
“Holding on to You (Holding on to Me)” sounds like a b-side from America’s 1982 View From the Ground, and that’s a compliment. With all the soulless drivel that passes for music today, one thing that Alex Dezen can be counted on is his unique ability to play hell on the heartstrings with simple rock-n-roll music that we feel like we are a part of.
From the funky bass line accompanying “Randolph Tonight” to the gritty guitar work on “I Had a Band”, in which Dezen pays homage to his days and former bandmates in The Damnwells. The topics on II are relatable in a way that’s refreshing and sincere. Something Alex Dezen has done consistently throughout his career as a musician.
“New York to Paradise” is a piano laden ballad seemingly dedicated to his mom as Dezen sings “Maybe she’ll be Debbie Harry, when she gets to heaven/Maybe she’ll be the rock star I couldn’t be.”
Jangly guitars and a Paul Simon vibe drive the laid back “Everything’s Great (Everythings Terrible)” in which Dezen tells the stories of everyday people and their seemingly everyday lives. The song offers an introspect into our own lives. Virtually saying that one minute all is great and the next, well, it kind of sucks. Meanwhile the song “Fuck or Fight” hits on the tribulations of a relationship on the rocks – something Dezen has written about masterfully dating back to his Damnwells days.
The standout track for me comes at the very end of the album, “The Boys of Bummer”. An acoustic number that pays tribute to Dezen’s roots as a musician and effectively concludes the record.
“God bless the boys of bummer,
with nothing much else to offer
except another sad, sad, song.”
I’m not surprised that Alex Dezen continues to write memorable, relatable music. As long as I have been listening to The Damnwells and now Dezen as a solo artist, there has been consistency in his ability to craft good music that pulses straight from his heart. II is another testament to the fact.
Featured Image by Mike Dunn of Rust and Rebel