Alex Di Leo – So We Go
The release of Alex Di Leo’s first solo effort, So We Go, is the first time his talents have received national exposure under his own name. Di Leo’s seven year tenure with South Florida band Wyld Fly produced one EP, 2013’s Show Me Your Love, before their 2014 dissolution. The end of the band never left Di Leo feeling particularly defeated as the six songs on his debut EP amply illustrate. These are hopeful songs underscored by the knowledge that life throws us a variety of disappointments in our pursuit of contentment, but their lyrical depth is exceeded by the musical imagination powering the tracks. Di Leo has clearly taken note of many recent developments on the indie scene and feels tremendous resonance with them – particularly the pop folk style popularized in recent years by bands like Fleet Foxes. However, there are clear stabs for radio play mixed it and none of them attempt pandering to their audience.
“So We Go” is a terrific example of his ability to hit the pop music sweet spot with listeners without ever selling his soul artistically to pull it off. The keyboard work is crucial, but never too omnipresent. Much of the song’s drama is keyed by the powerful, yet imaginative, drumming and the letter-perfect phrasing that further enlivens the lyrics. “Making It Easier” begins with some understated piano but soon begins climbing, climbing, climbing and never seems to stop. There’s a wonderful swirling quality that the arrangement invokes, but it never sounds anything less than natural. It’s arguably the EP’s single most cinematic moment. “Reason” begins with some pensive acoustic guitar before erupting into another full blown band arrangement that roars with passion mightier than ever before. Much of its dramatic power comes from its ceaseless teetering back and forth from muted sections into new passages of full-blown band pyrotechnics.
He explores folk pop territory once again on “When We First Met”. This will capture listener’s attention primarily on the basis of its vast, cathedral like vocal harmonies that sound double and often triple tracked. Pulling off this song in a live setting will need careful planning and some likely technological assistance, but Di Leo’s songwriting is open-ended enough that no one version, even the recorded version, can be considered a final draft. Instead, all six of these songs present possibilities for re-arrangements every bit as inventive as what he offers us here.
The EP’s concluding track, “Waking Up”, is the grand closer many will likely anticipate. He pulls all of the stops out here and delivers one of his most assertive vocals on the release. The spiraling theatrics heard on “Making It Easier” return here in a bigger and better way than they were used before and will bring anyone out of their seat. So We Go is a powerful effort from first song to last and appeals to a broad-based audience thanks to its considerable musical value and its unquestionable sincerity.
9 out of 10 stars