Last month, the mysterious singer-songwriter Alex Izenberg announced that he’d be releasing his new album, 'I'm Not Here', via Domino imprint Weird World on May 20th. Now, after teasing a first glimpse of the album with 'Egyptian Cadillac', Izenberg returns with the catchy, retro-pop romp 'Sorrows Blue Tapestry' and its video which features a real giraffe.
“All of my music is a defensive responsive to my environment that is as constantly changing as my thoughts are. I wrote 'Sorrows Blue Tapestry' about my dog Larks after she died, I realized I was going to die too and I stopped eating meat and started writing songs that were more influenced by my environment as a practice of acknowledging that we’re all rays of the same Sun rather than 6 billion separate minds, coping with the fact that if you love someone they will always be with you, even if they die, you feel them.”
Like his debut, 2016’s homespun 'Harlequin', and its ambitious 2020 follow-up 'Caravan Château', 'I'm Not Here' inhabits the shaggy, world-weary mode of Izenberg’s favorite ‘70s artists, folks like Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, Randy Newman, and Lou Reed. Recorded at Tropico Studios, produced by Izenberg and Greg Hartunian, and mastered by Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters in Los Angeles, CA, its swelling string and woodwind arrangements -courtesy of collaborator Dave Longstreth of Dirty Projectors- bring to mind the technicolor sweep of Van Dyke Parks.
Drawing inspiration from the writer and theologian Alan Watts, who wrote and spoke of life as a drama in which we put on and remove masks (or personas) to fit our moments, Izenberg’s new songs forged pathways toward universal awareness while retaining a sense of playfulness. Shifting between these modes, Izenberg’s songs recall one of Watts’ famous quotes: “You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago.” Tellingly, the cover of the album features the stark image of a mask, a nod to the malleable sense of identity that Izenberg explores on the album. “Above all, my biggest inspiration while writing this record was the idea of the joker, the one who can be any card in the deck", Izenberg explains.
Open about his diagnosis as a paranoid schizophrenic, Izenberg doesn’t shy away from complex topics in his music: heartbreak, confusion, and grief. Work on 'I'm Not Here' began in earnest following the passing of his dog and best friend Larks, named for 'Larks' Tongues in Aspic', the 1973 album by King Crimson, one of Izenberg’s favorite bands. With the world around him collapsing and his faithful companion gone, Izenberg settled deeply into himself and his imagination, looking for escape and reprieve.
Listen to 'Sorrows Blue Tapestry' here
Pre-save 'I'm Not Here' here