Alias Wayne’s new single “Ms Mystery” is like a musical missive composed at three a.m. in dim light and with the room full of smoke. You can see the blood and feel the flames of human history splattering and charring every passage. This new song from the pen of Ranzel X. Kendrick, otherwise known as Alias Wayne, carries on challenging traditions in Americana music with singular confidence and the courage of its convictions.
He doesn’t have a particularly hopeful view of the world. Anyone cueing this song up hoping to hear a life-affirming ode to the indomitable human spirit will come away disappointed. It has an inherent upbeat spirit, however – why write or sing the song if there’s no hope, however faint, for a better tomorrow?
Wayne, however, builds the song as a warning. It’s ominous, yet never outright. “Ms Mystery” is a song that points us towards human history to tell us all we need to know about what’s coming next and cautions that the center can fall apart to such an extent that it may reorder the world as we know it – or end altogether. With the Ukraine war generating all sorts of nuclear-laced chatter, Alias Wayne’s “Ms Mystery” is, unfortunately, timelier than ever.
Backing vocals makes the listening experience less dire. Kendrick’s voice remains at the song’s center, however, and it’s clear the arrangement and Kendrick’s singing as Alias Wayne are tailored to work together for maximum effect. I’m a great fan of this particular pairing. Alias Wayne sounds as if he’s emerging out of the dark regions of the Mississippi Delta or the Texas hinterlands to bring us, the listeners, ill tidings.
Ill or not, they’re irresistible. The song’s insistent refrain will lodge itself in your memory like it did with me. There’s an alien mood pervading the track, as well, like it’s timeless like it illustrates some deeper truth behind all human existence that we perhaps don’t wish to confront. Kendrick sounds sure of himself, however, at every turn of this song and never fails to get under its skin.
It’s a condensed and passionate outing. Kendrick never overreaches with needless ambitions but, instead, finds the song’s heart early on and explores every crevice in the track’s relatively brief running time. “Ms Mystery” isn’t your everyday song, but Kendrick as Alias Wayne makes every effort to give it a broad-based appeal without sacrificing its truth. I believe it’s a resounding success.
It’s the latest chapter in a lengthy career that’s taken Kendrick from his native Texas across the world. It’s a story that hasn’t concluded yet. He’s found an excellent vehicle for his songwriting vision as Alias Wayne and there’s nothing about the new single “Ms Mystery” that says he’s close to feeling finished with the role’s potential. We can expect many more great things to come from Ranzel X. Kendrick as Alias Wayne and “Ms Mystery” is a solid contender for one of 2023’s best singles. It goes places that few other songs do and snaps with intimacy and insight.