Alex Wellkers’ Fly Away 

Music

Alex Wellkers’ Fly Away crosses any arbitrary boundaries you can imagine. The Swiss singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and guitarist extraordinaire demonstrate the full scope of his skills. I began listening to the album’s eleven tracks wholly unaware of his history or prior releases. However, a single pass through these tracks stoked an interest in me to explore his slender catalog, and I find myself still returning to these songs, enamored with their broad ambition and bowled over by the sheer inventiveness of his reach. Fly Away makes an early list of the year’s best releases for me, and I expect it will finish the year still ranking quite high.

It’s well-rounded from the outset. “You Want Us” begins the release with what will soon become familiar sounds. It’s a stripped-down introduction to the release featuring nothing more than Wellkers’ voice, acoustic guitar, and supple violin accompaniment. We move from the soothing strains of the opener into the comparatively ambitious terrain of “We Celebrate”. This is a short but multi-part gem beginning with piano and acoustic guitar. Wellkers soon ups the ante with electric guitar and muscular drumming. It’s a taste of what’s to come.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/36dWmskCQaayVl86y8wz4P?autoplay=true

“Making Progress” expands on its ambitions. It’s nearly twice as long as its predecessor and progressive rock inklings find their way into the song’s arrangement. Wellkers is a comfortable fit in epic mode and the slow movement of the track allows listeners to relish each minute of this masterpiece in miniature. “Grab the Stars” takes his electric guitar skills a step further. It’s our first exposure to Wellkers in outright rock mode. He never forsakes instrumental adornments such as weaving violin through the song’s introduction gives it a unique flavor.

The French titled “Tu sais que je t’aime”, “You Know I Love You” in English translation, is arguably the most cinematic moment on Fly Away. Wellkers ties the assorted instrumentation with a steady hand, and you’ll be hard-pressed to identify any lulls in the arrangement. It has a stately grandeur matched by a few other tracks on this album. “What You Think Right Now” goes in the opposite direction. It’s full-on riff rock in an intelligent arrangement that is never content with overpowering listeners. Wellkers’ voice proves to be well-suited for this kind of material, and it rates as one of my favorite moments on Fly Away.

“We Belong Here” is another outstanding example of his arranging talents. Once again, Wellkers swerves listeners with an unexpected musical touch at the song’s outset, and the remainder of the tune spotlights his idiosyncratic alternative rock tendencies. The last track does much of the same. “Do Not Fall” is a final victorious track that puts an emphatic exclamation point on Fly Away. It’s a clear choice for the closer thanks to its dramatic weight. Alex Wellkers’ new album is a grab bag of musical delights that show off his compositional and playing talents. Let’s hope that we hear more from him soon. It will be well worth your time to seek him out.

Loretta Kim

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