I must admit, I have been wanting to review Ezra Axelrod's 'American Motel' for some time now. I was a bit late to the party, finding the release in May, since it was first released in February, almost a year ago. But once I heard the title track from the album, I knew I was hooked. I was charmed by Axelrod's melodies, and his great sense of humor. I learned there was much more of the same to be found on the album.
I read a bit about him, and discovered he grew up in rural Oregon, and studies voice in Middlebury, Vermont. He also traveled widely, with trips to Latin America. After college, he moved to London, working with artists in SoHo. Ezra remains based out of London. I also learned Ezra recorded the album in Columbia, with producer Toño Castillo, known for his work with Shakira and Aterciopelados. When I began listening, I was greeted by the title cut, "American Motel", right away. There is a wonderful feel of freedom, from the honesty in the lyrics, to the joyous Pop music. The twelve-song collection followed suit nicely. But first, check out the music video for "American Motel".
After watching that, I will admit I have a slight crush on Ezra, so handsome and kinda flirty. Maybe it is the sensual feel to much of his music, as well as a look at his own sexuality. When "Loud and Brave" started up next, I was a bit surprised at the uptempo feel, and in a great way. The song is effervescent, and the chorus just so damn catchy! There is a strong string section for the opening of "Around Here", a darker tale of lives lived by some. It tells of the confusion felt by a teen thinking of his sexuality and his sex life. From the very start, "Father" has a more personal feel. The search for a father envelops the boy in the song, becoming a quest. When I saw the song called "Southern Way", I will admit to not being sure what to expect. Not surprising, there is a Country feel to this Pop song, or at least a hint thereof. The song shifts gears as it moves from the South to Los Angeles, never resting. "19" is somewhere between saucy Pop and tangy Folk, with a sweet Retro feel to the chorus. Yet it moves smoothly, carrying me every step of the way. Now that we are past the halfway point, it is time for "10 Million Lights". I really love the song, and you can see if you do, too, as I have the video. While the first minute or so we hear "American Motel" being played, "10 Million Lights" soon commands the attention of all.
There was something so beautiful at the beginning, just his voice and a piano. There is just such beauty to the song. That is followed by the Spanish-inspired "Futbol y Mangos". The song has a dark beauty, but I readily admit it is well-beyond my Spanish. When "Strangers" began to play, I was immediately drawn in, feeling as if I was listening to a very personal story. The depth of feeling is certainly made available in Ezra's voice, touching my heart. That is followed by the interesting melody of "Hurricane Season", shifting as it moves along.
Axelrod released "Hurricane Season" as a single, with the money going to help victims of the money going to victims of flooding in Vermont. "Help the hurricane relief effort in Vermont by donating to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, and receive free music in return! Any donation, no matter the size, will receive as a thank-you a free MP3 of the track "Hurricane Season"." You can donate here. That song is followed by "Take Me Home", a beautiful choral song, done without instruments other than voice. It is really stunning, and heartfelt. With almost a jolt, "Prayer from a Dressing Room" brings back the instruments, leaving behind the ethereal with a return to the real world, or at least the very real world of a performer about to go on stage.
The album captures so many aspects of life, from the thoughtful and contemplative, to the daily grind of life, to the missteps we all have as we try our hand at dating and relationships. For more about Ezra Axelrod, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, or 'like' him on Facebook. You can purchase 'American Motel' on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.