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CD REVIEW: Alton Rex - Soul Faces
By Eliot Popkin - 12/24/2001 - 04:51 PM EST

Artist: Alton Rex
Album: Soul Faces
CD Review: Soul Faces is a 10 song offering from Austin songwriter Alton Rex. The album opens with a quick "Is That You" on which Rex sings "Are the broken-hearted healed beneath your fingertips?" It's a nice, effective opener during which the listener wonders more about who Rex is. This is really a writer's writer, where the song is the most important element happening here. Rex's voice is pleasant and effective, yet it really is a vessel for his tales. For anyone curious about good songwriting, enjoy this from "Trains Don't Run": "You can hear them clack and clatter in syncopated time, and hard mettalic rhyme, But trains don't run to Waring anymore." It's a beautiful moment.

"Whirlaway" reminds me of one my favorite writers, Mary Chapin-Carpenter. In "Unbroken Man" Lee Duffy adds a wonderful harmony line, and I'm curious why Rex didn't utilize more harmonies in his songs. It would only add more meaning to his already fine collection of songs. Rex uses many of the same players throughout his disc, and you hear the comfort and ease in moving from song to song. My only suggestion here is in a song "Holdin' On & Letting Go", in which there are so many time changes throughout that you lose sight of what could be a gorgeous ballad. Because his writing is so strong, I would like to see Rex have a bit more power and range with his voice. That's what you get for writing such good stuff. Rex will surely find a welcome home in singer/songwriter festivals, house concerts, and perhaps as well on the college coffeehouse circuit. A truly enjoyable album.
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