Alex Wellkers is Back With New Album’

Alex Wellkers’ evolution from a budding musician studying accordion and harmonica, among other instruments, to his mature accomplishments as a proficient guitarist testifies to his passion. The Switzerland-based singer, songwriter, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist’s new release Fly Away has eleven diverse songs spanning an impressive gamut of musical attributes. Strings, guitar, piano, ballads, all-out rockers, and even a whiff of progressive rock influences run through the album’s running order without ever sounding like a hodgepodge of ideas rarely cohering into anything memorable. Instead, Fly Away is a fully realized collection illustrating Wellkers’ gifts and promise.

If alternative rock is passe, Alex Wellkers didn’t receive the memo. Tracks such as “We Celebrate”, “Making Progress”, and “Grab the Stars” emphatically embrace that aesthetic with a European flair. No one will confuse Wellkers with Bob Dylan or Elvis Costello writing lyrics. However, the words for each of the album’s eleven tracks possess a genuine conversational acumen befitting the material. Wellkers elevate them further, particularly in the case of “Making Progress” and “Grab the Stars”, with committed vocals that hold the listener’s attention.

You won’t hear any guitar solos from him despite focusing on that instrument. However, Wellkers does subscribe to certain classic verities. He has a penchant for structuring some songs akin to classic rock tracks with evolving arrangements that mix light and shadow. He isn’t afraid to branch out as an instrumentalist and couples his guitar theatrics with surprising aural choices. “Niemals jemals da gewesen”, its English title “Never Been There”, fits that mold. Wellkers blends acoustic guitar and violin with scattered heavy guitar with a dramatic effect. It’s a ballad, but far from traditional, and many listeners will appreciate his unorthodox slant.

The French-titled “Tu sais que je t’aime”, translated to “You Know I Love You” in English, is one of the unquestionable high points of Fly Away. What would be a trite love song in the hands of a lesser talent becomes a fully realized musical and near-theatrical experience with Wellkers at the helm. “What You Think Right Now” is 180 degrees opposite. He foregoes the gentleness of the aforementioned number in favor of one of the album’s most unforgiving and unforgettable guitar exercises. It’s a sturdy song from beginning to end. His six-string talents never embrace gratuitous riffing, and the sense of purpose underlying his playing is one of the album’s strengths.

A brief burst of brass surprises you during the opening seconds of “We Belong Here” before Wellkers transitions into another of his alternative rock-fueled gems. He again refrains from senseless bashing and favors a dynamically diverse arrangement that compels listeners to stay with the song. The satisfying variety of Fly Away’s eleven songs is arguably its strongest point, but there’s a great deal here worth recommending. Alex Wellkers’ affinity for guitar-powered songwriting carries much of the day. However, it’s safe to say that we can expect Wellkers to continue pushing the envelope with future releases.

Chadwick Easton


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