Alex Skalany is in a couple bands. He has been rocking out with My Father’s Rifle and ArchAnimals for the last five years or so. Like a lot of people in bands he wanted to take a stab at doing his own solo work, which comes in the form of New Holland. He just released a short four-song EP, Red, under that moniker. The music revolves around his acoustic guitar and vocals although you do get some guest appearances from Stephanie Bazer who contributes some vocal work and Matthew Seferian who plays organ. The music drips with melancholy and his voice reminds me of a young Conor Oberst at times. There is nothing too complicated here, just well-built and put-together songs, although the poor production often takes a bit away from the songs.
The album opens with his most intimate, sad song of the bunch called “Car 1.” He strums his guitar lightly and barely gets above a whisper as he sings “My car is old and gets confused”. I’m not sure what this signifies but at least it was original. The much faster “Red” sounded more like Neutral Milk Hotel than Bright Eyes, which was fine by me. Stephanie Bazer’s vocal harmonies add a lot to the song. The only issue I had with the song was that it was too short. I could have listened to that for some time longer. “Candle Song” returns to the style of the first song and sulks in waves of despondency. The best song on the album is the closer “Living Next to You” which is like an old country western tune. Skalany’s and Bazer’s voices work very well together as the guitar melody swings back and forth like a pendulum.
It is obvious after hearing this little snippet that Skalany has talent. I want more and I hope he delivers it soon because this EP barely satisfied my appetite.
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