The Rose Club at the Plaza Hotel in New York City is perhaps one of the swankiest bars you could ever see. It overlooks the the lobby of the famed hotel and is draped in extravagant fabrics. The sophisticated lounge chairs are upholstered in soft velvet, a Persian rug covers the main floor and the drinks are just as expensive as the place looks. In other words, it was the perfect setting for up-and-comer -- and Bounce-Worthy artist -- Alex Boyd to deliver a career-making performance.
Upon hearing his first single and seeing his appearance, I was ready to put him in the same neat, blue-eyed soul box as other fair-skinned soul singers, like most probably would be. However, I would have been dead wrong. After seeing him perform, he definitely comes off as the type of singer who prides himself on not just worshiping at one musical altar, but following multiple influences to lead to his own unique sound.
As if to prove this, Alex took the stage after a brief introduction and lit into the soulful "Butterfly." Dressed in all black, he and the band handled the performance like he had been in the business for decades. The song, laced with organ, keys, and a tight horn section, bounced along nicely and provided a good warm up for the eager crowd. He worked the audience a bit more, segueing into his single "Light Up Tonight" (which he would go on to perform on his television debut the following Saturday).The song had the feel of Maroon 5 at their best with its slight pop-rock leaning chorus, but his voice kept the song firmly planted in a traditional soul sound. After seeing that he had the audience in his control, he quickly began the tender ballad "One Day at a Time." Here, his vocal, simple and restrained, let the earnestness of the song's lyrics shine even against the lush organ and horns vying for equal attention.
After that, he gave the band a bit of a break as he strapped on his own guitar and began a story about the next song, "Between the Lines." Boyd told the crowd that the song was written in LA when he was 19 and going through a moment of self doubt. The song's lyrics and melody would appeal to any quarter-lifer trying to establish their identities. In fact, the song was so good by itself that I can't imagine what Common, who will appear on the song's album version, could possibly add to it. To break the somber mood of the song that lingers after such an introspective work, he followed with breezy "Snap," an ode to a love that has him at the "snap of [her] fingers." He worked his charm over the crowd as they all snapped along to the deceptively bubbly tune.
Alex saved the most impressive song for last, his debut's title track "Commit Me." Sitting at the keys while his producer/musical partner-in-crime Andy Rose assumed his position at the organ, they ripped into the track. The song can probably best be described as a summation of his influences. It's got a '60's/'70's soul feel married with a slick, modern pop sound and touches of gospel and blues. It's a perfect showcase for his voice, lyrics, and musical sense.
As he prepped to leave the stage, the crowd egged him on until he couldn't refuse. He reprised his single, making sure to announce that it was available on iTunes this month. This time, "Light Up Tonight" seemed freer, no doubt due to the room full of praise he'd just received. The extra bit of giddy made the song seem even more infectious.
Unfortunately, I learned after his performance that the release date for his debut is still to be determined outside of the generic "sometime this year." The label rep at the event couldn't confirm whether this was due to label red tape or just a matter of Alex and Andy putting the final touches on the project. In the meantime, all interested can head over to his Twitter for updates on the release date.
[Photos: Sean Rhinehart]