Houston Press May 11, 2006 by John Nova Lomax
Folksy Americana rocker Lee Alexander is another Beatles fanatic -- on Out of Place, his Richard Cagle-produced debut CD, the backing harmonies are a dead giveaway, as are certain sitarlike guitar effects here and there. Album opener "Venus Rising" finds Alexander in Lennon mode and Cagle in full-on homage to George Martin -- but the electric piano/ woodwinds vibe is more faux-Edwardian Sgt. Pepper's than Helter Skelter White Album.
Other '60s influences crop up -- the whispery, harmonica-tinged acoustic number "On the Down Side" replicates Simon & Garfunkel (and '70s Shake Russell/Dana Cooper), while the bossa nova "My Sweet Addiction" harks back to Sergio Mendes and other such Brazilian pop crossover stuff. Equally obvious debts to guys like Elliott Smith, Nick Drake and Steve Earle crop up elsewhere.
Lyrically, Alexander mainly mines relationship veins -- he finds rich ore on the bitterly funny "Better Him Than Me" -- but he also throws in tributes to Woody Guthrie and his tough-as-nails late grandmother, a sly Tom DeLay slam and a remake of "Danny Boy." The Nacogdoches-bred musician also plays a staggering array of instruments -- mandolin, fife, guitar, piano, uilleann pipes, harmonica and violin -- which should tell you that this CD never gets too same-y.
Alexander has enormous potential -- Out of Place is that rarest of rare local CDs that is both potentially commercial on a national scale and downright enjoyable to boot. I do have one quibble: On some but by no means all songs, Alexander's voice is overly breathy and he affects some weird accentÉyou know that one that all those singers on OC bands have that makes the sorority girls swoon?
See him at: The Vintage Bar (4356 Westheimer, 713-355-3093) on Friday, May 12, and the Proletariat (903 Richmond, 713-523-1199) on Wednesday, May 17.