Shane Alexander has shaped a distinctive career for himself starting with his debut album, The Middle Way, in 2005. Touring the US and 11 other countries both as a headliner, and supporting acts such as Bon Iver, Jewel, John Hiatt, Suzanne Vega, Seal Styx and Yes, the fiercely independent and hardworking artist has developed a loyal international fan base, has had his work appear in over 100 television shows and films, and recently had a solo acoustic track, “Skyway Drive-In” (from 2013’s Ladera) cross over 6.5 million streams on Spotify.
Since his debut, Alexander’s last 4 records were produced with Billy Mohler (Grammy Nominated writer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist). Bliss, his 6th full-length studio record, and first self-production, was recroded at his new Buddhaland Studios located in Ventura County, CA. “It was an amazing experience to be at the helm in my own studio, at long last,” said Alexander, “there are many first takes on this record, which led to the songs feeling organic and honest.”
Bliss is a timeless tribute to both the artist’s classic rock influences and more recent contemporaries such as Jonathan Wilson, Ryan Adams and Conor Oberst. Alexander’s crystalline tenor and deft acoustic guitar are at the heart of all the tracks. The folk-light opener ‘Evergreen’ blends Paul Simon and Ram-era McCartney in its fingerpicked cadence and vivid lyrical imagery. “Something Real Never Dies” which calls to mind 80’s bands like The Church and The Cure, is a dreamy pop rocker about lost loves that ‘circle around you again and again.’ The ultra-dark “I Will Die Alone” sounds like a forgotten gem, unearthed in a time capsule from the early 60’s, with a Ricky Nelson-meets-Morricone vibe that you’ll just want to put on repeat. “Heart of California” is a sun-soaked ode to all things west coast, with its driving Wilco/Petty energy, and the gorgeous lapsteel, courtesy of Ojai mainstay Jesse Siebenberg, who was also featured on Ladera, as well as many tracks on the new album.
Also returning from Ladera, is keyboardist Peter Adams, whose sonic explorations have graced records for Josh Groban, Tears for Fears, Ricki Lee Jones, Macy Gray and countless others. Bassist Vic Ruiz and drummer Josh Grolemund, also from Alexander’s live band appear, as well as vocalists Justine Bennett, Jamie Drake and Sarah Pigion whose lush harmony vocals on ‘Heart of California’, ‘Hold Me Helpess’ and the title track add to the 70’s palette considerably. Aaron Sterling (John Mayer, The Civil Wars, Taylor Swift) returning from 2010’s Mono Solo, also provides drums and percussion to three tracks on Bliss.
For all of the heartache and lessons learned on the album, the closing title track leaves the listener on a sublime note of peace and forgiveness, one that is mirrored in the cover image, hand-drawn by veteran rock and roll artist Alan Forbes.