Alex Bleeker & the Freaks
Bleeker's second solo excursion from the ranks of Real Estate sounds much steadier than his first. Where the eponymous album suffered from a sense of finding himself apart from his day job, lending to the standout track being a cover of his contemporaries and collaborators Mountain Man, here Bleeker seems to find his own voice in that of the disheveled country troubadour. Everything on How Far Away gets a shot in the arm, from production rife with strident jangles and soft steel guitar whinnies, to Bleeker's own voice which is pulled from the instrumental murk of his debut. The album is ostensibly a breakup album, always fine fodder for goading the best out of people, and Bleeker even takes the anti-Carly Simon tact of declaring "I know its obvious my songs are all for you" in "All My Songs." Its a heart-on-sleeve moment among many on the album, but though the subject matter is focused heavily on lost, that doesn't stop the album from attaining a certain buoyancy that propels the songs, alluding to the fact that Bleeker is down but never out. In fact the darker moments are tender enough to endure the listener to Bleeker's plight and each twang addled passage goes down smooth as aged scotch to patch old wounds with a warm comfort in the belly that, though temporary, feels like the answer to better days.
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