Philadelphia-based Songwriter and Composer, Alex Kahn has weaved an eccentric path through diverse musical terrain. His experience in the industry has tailored his unique sound as he thrives upon the in-depth contributions that he has to offer.
His most recent sophomore album, 'The Marble Jar,' is dedicated to melodies that comfort and disturb his audience as he oscillates between the bright jangle-pop of 1991 and the faint intimations of Elliot Smith. The second single off of, 'The Marble Jar,' is titled, “Lorelai.” A record drizzled in the cavernous reflective conviction that conveys lighthearted lyrics.
Delicate tones of classic guitar channel an equivocal touch on the cherished effects that the softened composition holds. Alex Kahn uses his creative genius to craft, “Lorelai,” as a love letter to his beloved dog that shares a name with the title of this song.
With thoughts pondering across the mind of this brilliant artist, questions arise, and Alex Kahn starts to answer them for himself. As one to never take himself too seriously, Alex Kahn sprinkles his keen wit with some self-deprecating humor, poking fun at the immense safety precautions he takes to overprotect his cherished pet.
The soothing effects of Alex Kahn’s raw vocal talent weigh heavy on our minds as we take in his ultimate quintessence as an individual and artist. The tender bulk of his conveyance has us swooning over the performance exuded in, “Lorelai.” As Alex Kahn dips in and out of our minds as we float to cloud nine, we appreciate the craftsmanship in the manner in which he maintains the theme of this album in the song, “Lorelai,” we hear a sonic demonstration of an elusive tightrope walk between various opposites.
“Lorelai,” represents the talents transmitted in the soundwaves of Alex Kahn’s sophomore album, 'The Marble Jar.' As we fire up the next song in the queue, we suggest that you do the same.
Hello Alex, thank you for joining us at BuzzMusic, and congratulations on the release of your second single, “Lorelai,” off of your latest album, 'The Marble Jar.' What was your main inspiration behind the name of the albums and the themes that you address?
I’m really glad that song resonates with you! “Lorelai” is a love letter to my dog. It explores the non-verbal ways of communication that occur between a person and their dog. How do we live in such intimate communion with another being for so long and not have a single conversation in human language, yet so much is said and expressed. I wrote this song inspired by our long walks through LA.
The song also gets into some feelings of helplessness and control. How do we embark on relationships with pets when we know we will outlive them. There is a feeling of “pre-grief” that accompanies this song and is expressed fully in the last verse. We take a leap of faith and bring this love into our lives knowing that they’re going to die and so are we. All we can do is jump into the fire. It also touches on my own neuroses surrounding losing her. In a self-deprecating way, I make fun of all of the safety precautions I take with my dog: gates on the stoop, GPS collars, etc. Because losing her would be too much to bear as she was a pillar of comfort for me during these difficult years. It is also a potential insight into how I might feel as a parent, which is terrifying.
Could you please tell your listeners what they have in store with your album, 'The Marble Jar?'
This album is a split-screen effect of happy and sad. It’s like if those greek sad/cry faces attempted to make a record. In the past, I’ve been a bit self-conscious about injecting humor into my songs, but with this record, I decided to just lean in. I feel that sadness and laughter are a lot more intertwined than we often think. The record is very narrative and the lyrics are the main thread that connects the whole thing. While making this record, a musicologist who works with the studio suggested that I am a librettist in disguise. I had to look up that word, but after doing so, I found it to be an astute assessment of the situation. That being said, it’s not a record to simply vibe within the background while doing something else. Yes, you can do that, but this is a record that demands present attention to really get the most out of it. It plays more like a short story or a low budget broadway play than an indie rock record. I understand that’s not for everyone, but I like to make music that people can really hold on to and develop an intimate relationship with. That’s how I grew up listening to albums. There’s lots of content and little details that might take a few listens to pick up on it, which hopefully keeps people engaged. In other words, this is more for the Reddit crowd than the TikTok crowd (although I love TikTok too).
The sequence of this record is very intentional. Playing on shuffle might be a trippy experience. I felt songs about my dad passing needed extra space from songs like “the opposite of sex appeal”. Speaking of that song, it’s a very unsexy album. This album is a lot more of a Sunday morning after vibe than a Friday night vibe. I wanted to focus on the period of the relationship that happens after the infatuation period wears off. It seems like every Disney movie and most love songs just stop after that point. Everything is hunky-dory when you don’t know a person that well, that’s easy. But when you actually get close with a person, all of the demons you thought you exorcised long ago start to rear their ugly heads. I think this is a make or break moment because welcoming that baggage into your relationship can be some of the most beautiful and intimate moments between two people. These songs seem more relevant to that time during the arch of love.
Out of all the songs on the tracklist, do you have a particular song that resonates with you more than others?
This is a tough question, like determining which child you like best. They all resonate with me in different ways at different times. Overall, “Barry” really resonates with me. I wrote this song in the aftermath of my dad’s death. It just poured out of me in like an hour, which is rare but happens sometimes. It explores what Joan Didion refers to as “magical thinking”; that in-between moment of grief where the initial shock has subsided but still everything feels surreal and the world is unrecognizable. Believing I could talk to my dad in dreams or in my head was a pretty frequent phenomenon. This song is more of a prayer, or a meditation on that longing to be reunited with the deceased. It is very soothing to me, and perhaps soothing in a way that my dad was to me. The melody and chords give the aesthetic distance to the intensely painful experience of grief, almost like a gauzy balm over a wound.
How has it been releasing a full-length project during the pandemic? Have there been any learning curves through the process?
This album was already coming out of a musical hibernation for me, so it was a pretty large bummer when I felt ready to share the music with people and the world just shut down. That being said, my problems are pretty minuscule as a privileged person. I definitely felt bummed that I wouldn’t be able to play shows, but I’m doing a Livestream on Friday and will continue to do those when I can. In some ways though, I think art has even more of an important place now than it did before the pandemic. People are stuck at home and many are in challenging situations. Art is meant to comfort the disturbed, and boy are we disturbed! In that way, I feel grateful to provide people with music during this time.
2020 has been a very challenging year for everyone. What has been keeping you inspired to create music? What advice can you give another artist who's finding it difficult to do so?
I think the best advice I can give to anyone finding it difficult to make art is to re-examine your reasons for it. If you’re making it for other people then you’re going to be constantly disappointed, pandemic, or no pandemic. If there is no organic will to make music then I think it will always be an uphill battle. People just need to find what vibes with them and then share them. That’s it. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.