Okay. this blog has absolutely NOTHING to do with France (unless you count the fact that I'm in France..), but I am too excited and happy to NOT post an album review...or more accurately, an ablum "gush", because I will be gushing about how awesome this album is to all of you, my peeps-family and friends :) Because you KNOW that if I was home right now, I would make you ALL listen to it!!!!!! So, since you can't listen to it (unfortunately, right?) until I get home, I am letting you all read about it! I promise I will get back to writing about my time in France in my next blog! I have lots to update on! Now, on to the review!
Okay....so anyone who's been following my life and is family enough to know all about my Alex Band love and hear all about Alex's daily music happenings knows that I've been waiting YEARS for this album to finally drop!! And I would actually be waiting longer if it weren't for a certain wonderful company called Zorbitz. Zorbitz approached Alex about releasing his album early through their new bracelet line, Black Star Bracelets. With each bracelet you buy, you get one free song download from his new album. So 12 bracelets total. I was still going to buy all the bracelets, but I meant to take it slowly and buy one every month and wait to hear the whole album until the actual official release date next year. BUT! Yesterday the codes for the preordered bracelets (I preordered 4) were sent out. And everyone who had bought all 12 bracelets were just gushing and gushing about the album!! And I just COULD NOT miss out!!!!!! It was like...being forced to watch everyone at your birthday party eat your birthday cake while you aren't allowed any!! SO. I bought my bracelets and got all my song downloads last night and I've been listening non-stop to this amazing album!! (LOL my review hasn't even started but you already know it's an amazing album..) So yeah. Just to put this all into perspective.... You all know how hard this wait has been for me! Alex left his record label to go independant. There were so many delays. Honestly, up until last night when without even thinking about it I bought all the bracelets, I thought I'd be waiting until next Spring to hear this album! So, it's literally a dream come true for me!
Now, on to the review!! (which is really long, and I think each song review gets longer too as I get to the end, lol!)
1. We've All Been There: Oh My Goodness!! This is THE perfect song to open an album with!! I've heard the whole thing many times before I got the album (live, of course), so no big surprises. I LOVE the opening notes leading up to "here I am.."! I also LOVE the orchestration leading up to the end of the song-you can hear it SO well, and there's a part where the orchestration sounds SO cool right before that last end part...which I never noticed before in any live recordings. I LOVE it!
2. Tonight: I've heard the live version countless times, plus the demo, plus the first "final" version when it was played on a Richmond radio station a few years back, but I must say it felt so good to hear the final recorded album version! It sounds great! I love how after he sings "tonight" in the chorus, in the background there's like a little echo of it. SO cool! It is so catchy and such a fun song! I can't wait for it to be released as the first single! Alex wrote it 4 years ago with a vampire love story in mind, so I'm sure all the little Twilight fans will love it :)
3. Only One: I've had this song for about 1 1/2 years, on both the EPs, and I thought it would maybe be a bummer hearing it on the album with all the "new" songs. BUT, it's as if Only One has finally found it's "home"! It fits so well on the album and I've always loved it, from the moment I first heard the demo clip of the chorus in one of Alex's Christmas videos to the fans a few years ago. It's one of my favorites and it just feels right to hear it on the album!
4. Forever Yours: Oh. My. Gosh.!!!! I am in love with this song!! Every time I listen to it, I love it more! It's so much more upbeat than I thought it would be, which makes it even greater in my opinion!!! It's also much better than the love songs you hear on the radio nowadays. I LOVE the second verse, I'm pretty sure it talks about Alex and Jen's wedding (I'm ignoring for the moment the fact that they are now divorced! The song was written like 4 years ago and they just recently split.) I don't want to post a lot of lyrics, because I don't want people to read them who aren't family and then post them on websites. But I love it when he sings, "I do, I give myself to you, I do.." You can feel all the love Alex was feeling when he wrote it! And of course, I've got a BF so it's just that much more special to me! It would be a really great song to play at a wedding! Seriously, the whole song is breathtaking! Probably one of my all-time favorites! (even though it is like IMPOSSIBLE to pick faves on this album!)
5. Please: Okay, this song has been an absolute favorite of mine since....like 4 years ago when Alex first put the demo up on his myspace page! I LOVE the opening! He answers questions he asked himself waaaaayyyy back in 2001 in Final Answer. It's so....(can't even explain it!) great how he does it! Please opens up with the answers to the questions in Final Answer (on Camino Palmero) and I just LOVE how Alex goes back to the old song that he wrote as a teenager and practically child, and now that he's older and has learned a lot about life, he can answer his own questions! It's genius, really. But if you don't know The Calling you won't get the same effect (unless you love this album so much that you buy Camino Palmero and Two and then make the connection!) I also LOVE the string arrangement on this song! There's a GREAT part right at the end! I've been waiting to hear the final album version for SO long because I LOVE the last 2 verses (well, it's the same verse, just repeated), and I LOVE the build up leading up to them!! Now I'm in my happy place, doing my happy dance! One of the BEST songs ever! With such a strong message-that really all religions boil down to the same thing. I love how it's basically asking what is the right thing to believe in, because so many people these days don't believe in anything anymore because they don't know what's "right." Just pure brilliance!!
6. What Is Love: Let me first say that from the crappy-hard-to-hear clips of this song from the concerts in Brazil, I really wasn't sure if it would be a favorite of mine. BUT, I LOVE the album version! First of all, the opening guitar part (even if it's just like 2 seconds long) is brilliant! And Alex's vocals are STUNNING!!!! I LOVE how when he sings "tell me now" in the bridge, he sings it higher than when he sings it live. Adds some spice to the song! I just love all the lyrics!! I love the concept of the song-how people are forgetting what love it! I love so many lines but I will only post one short one-"though we rose from the mud, we're drowning in the flood, it goes on and on.." I also adore the piano bit that ends the song. It's brilliant!
7. Love: One word: MASTERPIECE!!!!!!!!!!!! This song might be Alex's absolute greatest song EVER. I'm seriously quite speechless and blown away. I've been waiting since 2006 to hear this song. I heard it at the acoustic show last year in Richmond and it brought tears to my eyes and sent tingles down my spine! This is the song I wanted to hear MOST of all, in it's full-band, final album version. And it is BREATHTAKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Alex's voice sounds PERFECT, so smooth and lovely! When the song started, I got tingles! I love it SO much! I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE too much for words to even express the gospel choir!!!!! It fits SO well and definitely adds to the song! It's much different than the ending Alex sang in Richmond, but that was perfect for an acoustic show, and this ending is perfect for the full-band version! Oh my gosh, I'm in love! I can't possibly describe how amazing this song is! Everyone needs to buy it and it hear it for themselves! It is seriously very uplifting. I can't even pick a favorite line....besides the ending part, I also love "but deep within these ashes, there's a healing passion and so I carry on, and somehow I stay strong.." The song was written while someone very close to Alex was sick in the hospital fighting for their life, and it's about how love kept them both going.
8. Leave (Today Is the Day): What a heartbreaking song! It is one of my all-time favorites EVER! It's a breakup song, but not your typical "oh-he-left-me-for-another-woman-boohoohoo" breakup song. And it's not an "I-hate-you-I'm-leaving-you" breakup song either. It's about making the hard decision to walk away from a relationship you desperately wanted to work, but isn't. Which is all the more heartbreaking because Alex and his wife broke up recently :( So you know it's something he was really feeling when it wrote it. It really is a masterpiece! I think it would be a good second single. It's so different, and SO many people could relate to it. The first verse made me cry. I won't post lyrics. You'll have to buy the song :) One of my other favorite lines is at the end of the second verse. Buy the bracelet. Download the song! And then we can chat about the great lyrics! I love this song SO much, perhaps more than others because I know it's something Alex has gone through very recently. I'm SO glad it's on the album! I loved the little acoustic clip we got to hear a few months ago, and the full-band album version is just amazing!!
9. Never Let You Go: Amazing! (please excuse my very small collection of adjectives...Anna isn't hear to help me out) I've heard this song a lot thanks to very bad youtube videos of Alex's shows in Brazil, and I've been waiting and waiting to hear it on the album! The youtube recordings were so bad you could not make out what Alex was saying, and you could hardly hear his lovely voice! And I am pleased to say that the song is every bit as beautiful as I thought it would be! It comes with the "Protection" Black Star Bracelet, which suits the song perfectly! I LOVE the last extended chorus! Makes me want to go to an Alex show and sing along at the top of my lungs! My favorite lyric is probably the chorus. It's just so great :) But I also love the bridge! And also, "I still remember the way you taste, the smell of your skin, the touch of your face.." GREAT concert song!
10. Euphoria: Oh My Gosh!! I've always liked the live clips of Euphoria (and I loved hearing it live in Richmond!), but it wasn't one of my favorites. Until now. It is GORGEOUS!!!!! Oh my gosh-the beautiful opening with the string instruments!! It makes me melt EVERY time!! The orchestration is AMAZING!! You can hear it way better on the album than when it's done live. I LOVE it! The whole concept of this song is brilliant! Besides the chorus, my favorite lyric is the first verse. Here's a preview, "when you take a breath, but you can't hold it in.." I definitely feel a connection with this song, and it will forever more remind me of La Rochelle! Last night, it was dark and I was walking home through the old port (wish I could post photos!). The temperature was PERFECT, and there was a beautiful light breeze that made my face tingle every time it blew past me (hard to explain but I think you get the picture). And the carousel was going, kids were on it, old-fashioned music was playing! And the towers and the old city were all lit up! It was the PERFECT evening!! And I felt "euphoria"! <3>before I bought the bracelets and downloaded the album and listened to the song! But as soon as the song started, I immediately was reminded of the walk home I'd just taken! SO intense!
11. Without You: Wow!! I had only heard a little clip of this song from Alex's "In the Studio" videos on youtube, and I liked what I heard but I really had no idea what to expect in terms of the finished whole song. It's one of my favorites!! It's obviously about being without someone you love (be it a partner, family member, friend, etc..) and just doing the best you can without them. I LOVE it!! Alex's voice is AMAZING!! And I love how powerful the song is by the last chorus!! I love the beginning guitar part! I love the ending because Alex's vioce sounds SO powerful! Hard to pick a favorite line. I love, "I'm a bird without a sky...." and the rest of the verse because it shows how insanely hard it is without that person, but you're still doing your best. And of course the chorus is amazing!! Anyone who's trying to get along without someone will totally relate, "those were the memories that will never die..". Despite what you might think, it's quite an upbeat song :) AWESOME!!
12. Start Over Again: Okay. This might get long...Start Over Again was probably (besides "Love", which I had actually already heard acousticly..) my most antipitated song on this album! I've been drooling over the very few studio clips we have of it, and it was SO hard to wait until the end of the album to hear it! And it was......not at all what I expected! I thought it would be more of a big rock anthem, which it's not. But that being said, I was pleasantly surprised! It is very quiet in the beginning with a slow build up. There's a great instrumental part. Though the vocals following the instrumental would probably have worked better before the instrumental. Honestly thought, now that I've soaked up the song, I ADORE it! Alex's vocals are AMAZING!! Especially in the beginning. (I thought I'd like the vocal part after the instrumental more, but I actually love the beginning a wee bit more! It's so different and lovely!) It's is just....so....spine-tingling when Alex sings the 2nd verse! "Life can bring you up, then steal your luck...." It's just SO gorgeous and when you hear Alex sing it, you know he's "been there", when life seems like it's always beating you up, but yuo just gotta pick yourself up and start again. I still absolutely LOVE the vocals after the instrumental, since I'd been waiting AGES (as any of you who I forced to listen to the clip from the studio video a loong time ago know!) to hear them in their final state (I replayed them about a million times in the "Studio" videos. Seriously.) I've thought for a long time that the song was about Aaron (his partner in The Calling) because of the lyrics to that part. But Alex said it's not about him, and after hearing the rest of the song, I can definitely see that it's not. Though the theme does fit.... I LOVE the orchestration on this song!! In the "Studio" videos, we got to hear some of it from when they actually had the orchestra in the studio recording it, and I thought it was great then. But it's SUPERB now!! It really adds to the song! I LOVE Start Over Again! Not at all what I expected, but I really love it-a bit of spice is good in life :)
Bonus Song: Cruel One: Okay, this song is not on the actual album (it originally was supposed to be, but Alex changed his mind I guess), but I got it as a bonus song for buying all 12 bracelets (because I'm SUCH a great fan!). I LOVE THIS SONG!!!! It SHOULD be on the album! It is so different from anything else Alex has done! (Plus, Emmy Rossum [Phantom of the Opera, people!] does backup vocals and sweet opera singing!) I hope it's someday available for purchase through itunes for all the fans who can't afford 12 bracelets. (I actually bought 14....they were late sending me 2 of my codes for bracelets I preordered months ago, and I could NOT wait a moment longer!! The two extra bracelets will be gifted away..) This song is every bit as great as I thought it would be, and then some!! Emmy's vocals at the end TOTALLY round out the song! And Alex's voice sounds SO passionate, especially towards the end when he sings, "love is a cruel one.." *sigh* I love it!! My favorite part is in verse 2, "like a SHOT *music stops for moment* in the dark I stumble.." SO great!! I really hope everyone has the opportunity to hear it someday, because it's one of my favorites! Family, you will hear it a lot around the house when I get home ;)
I heart this WHOLE album!! It is simply impossible to pick 1 favorite, or even 5, because I love every song so much!! DONT tell my CP or Two cds....but I think this cd is better than both of them...Combined!!!!!! EVERY song is a winner, and there are SO many potential singles!! I can't wait for "Tonight" to come out and for the official album release so that everyone can listen to this MASTERPIECE!!!!! After over 3 years of waiting *patiently*, this album was MORE than I ever thought it could be! Can't wait to play it for you all when I get home!! You will all be waiting SO impatiently for the official album release next year!! Of course, if you simply cannot wait after reading my stellar review, go to: www.blackstartbracelets.com And order a few :) Or all 12 :) After 12, you get 2 bonus songs and a PHONE CALL from ALEX BAND!!!!! Yeah. It's totally worth every penny!!
Can you tell I'm really happy?!!!!!!!!!!!!!