With steel guitar by country-rock vet Dan Dugmore, harp by Willie Nelson main man Mickey Raphael, muscular rock guitars and a handsome bourbon baritone, Indiana longhair Alex Williams casts himself squarely in the outlaw mode Chris Stapleton has rebooted with his debut LP. The 25-year-old rides hard for stoners: "More Than Survival" finds him justifying his Wednesday night buzz; "Little Too Stoned" declares solidarity with "a fucked up generation/Like our nation's never known" while Dugmore's steel blows smoke rings. But "Old Tattoo" is the standout, dialing back the bad ol' boy postures to address a dead grandfather, a deep meditation that shows a real storyteller getting his legs.
Bearing witness to the baroque clusterfuckery of the world is no longer voluntary. We are all forced to watch. Every possible catastrophe vibrates in our pockets, demanding to be witnessed. So what better soundtrack than something new from Alex Cameron?
While Mike Nichols' 1966 film of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? gets more frightening every time you watch it, Alexander North's score to the same film gets more consoling every time you hear it. Nichols' film, particularly the performances by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, has scenes of terrific intensity, but North's score, though faithful to what's on screen, has a tenderness, even a sweetness, that transforms the ultimate meaning of the film. Part of it is North's characteristically evocative orchestration with some cues delicately scored for guitar, celesta, bass clarinet, harpsichord, and a pair of harps, while others are scored for spare almost spooky winds arrayed against soothing strings. But most of it is North's soaring melodies and brooding harmonies – and especially his big-hearted main theme. By prefiguring the film's reconciliatory ending, the solace offered by North's score transfigures all the horrors enacted between Taylor and Burton.