In conversations over cheap beer and cheaper brandy, my friends and I were been discussing what makes us love or hate a song. Our music tastes overlap a lot but there are a few outliers, the most polarizing being Bruce Springsteen. I’m an unabashed fan and by and large, love his whole catalog (there’s always a few clunkers when you have a more than 4 decade career). My friends were aghast and we began to try to figure out how we could a song like Nebraska could illicit such different reactions from us. Until this conversation, I had never really thought about why a song that really grabs me, but as we talked it became clear that the common thread in most songs I like is genuine emotion. For me to really like a song, it has to make me feel something. I need to believe the emotion in the song. If that’s missing and I don’t have an emotional response of some sort, I’m most likely not going to like the song.

That’s why if you look through my record collection you will see a lot of old sad bastard music with stories or love, loss, addiction, pain, and often even triumph over these things. Tommy Alexander’s ‘Too Many Miles’ would be right at home amidst albums from the likes of John Moreland, Glen Hansard, and Elliott Smith. The sound of Alexander alone with his guitar captures the feel of the loneliness he is singing about. His voice and guitar playing are reminiscent of John Prine. There’s pain in his singing particularly in the subtle use of vibrato that almost sounds like the beginnings of a sob. It’s real emotion rather than an affectation.  Anyone who has ever been far from those you love, can identify with that loneliness. Though the song is about Tommy’s feeling of isolation, we immediately can put ourselves in the song and it becomes our story.  I’m really looking forward to hearing more from Tommy Alexander and for his upcoming album which will be out in summer/fall of this year.

This song was inspired by the feeling of being a long way from the ones you love, from your home. Here I am feeling a pull towards introspection and self examination, to get more to the root of my own loneliness. It was  ironic because I wrote the song at my Dad’s house over Thanksgiving weekend,  while visiting the house that I grew up in. I left that home, as many do around 18 years old, and since have spent plenty of time missing my family, missing that home, missing some aspect of a childhood innocence.  In this song I found a small piece to the puzzle of my life.  -Tommy Alexander


Making it as a musician today can require a heavy helping of DIY spirit, and Alexander has that in spades. It carried the California born musician all the way to Burlington, Vermont, where he founded Jenke Arts, a nonprofit artists’ collective and record label, and eventually all the way back west, where he found a new artistic home (at least for the moment) in Portland, Oregon.  Once in Portland, Alexander connected with producer Mike Coykendall, who has worked with a slew of indie darlings, including M. Ward, She and Him, Bright Eyes and Blitzen Trapper. Alexander’s vocals recall the earnest warble of Conor Oberst, but expand into a unique, infectious indie rock style all his own. His honest and heartfelt lyricism come to life in his songs which will strike a chord with you the very first listen.