Crummy childhoods: What would therapists, memoirists and songwriters do without them? Rotten parents have launched a thousand Billboard chart-toppers and countless heart-wrenching ballads. It sounds a little cynical but next to heartless girlfriends, rock musicians have turned to absent fathers more than almost any other topic.
L.A.-based singer songwriter Shane Alexander is a little different. He hasn’t mined his family drama for song lyrics so much as used the record collection he sought comfort in during those tough times as continuing inspiration. Alexander remembers how, at the age of 5, he first listened to Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits. “It was sad and beautiful and it kind of soaked into me,” he explains.
Listening to Alexander’s most recent album, Stargazer, that influence is present in everything from the instrumentation to the softness and rusty warmth of the vocals. The album is a collection of delicate and often melancholy tracks that cover everything from love (“Front Porch Serenade”) and loneliness (“The Moore Hotel”) to the fleeting nature of time (“Spaces In Between”).
“On the second record, we used some of the best session guys in L.A. — really versatile players. I like to think of it like a John Lennon record with more genre-less, timeless music … It’s a little softer, a little bigger, a little more beautiful,” explains Alexander, comparing Stargazer to his first full-length album, 2005’s The Middle Way.
Although listeners may not be immediately familiar with Alexander’s name, they might find that they are familiar with a few of the tracks off of his recent album, as a number of them have been picked up by mainstream television. ABC’s What About Brian and MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Real World have used Alexander’s music as soundtrack material.
So, does he tune in to hear his own songs? “That’s what TiVo’s for,” he says, laughing. “Some I approve of more than others. But it’s a huge blessing to have your songs out there.”
Aside from television, others may be familiar with Alexander because of his gig as an opening act for Jewel in 2005 and 2006. During that time, he performed at venues as large as the Greek in Los Angeles, with just his acoustic guitar.
“It’s empowering to be out there by myself and have my songs connect … I just want to get my music out to as many people as possible,” he says.