On his debut album SEA/SONS, Abraham Alexander emerged as a talent to watch. Mixing evocative, sometimes personal writing with an eclectic and distinctly modern soul sound, Alexander surpassed the expectations critics and fans had for the record. Showing considerable lyrical growth and musical versatility, SEA/SONS captures Alexander reflecting on his personal journey, upbringing, and more across eleven well-crafted songs.
While the album features a pair of A-list guest appearances in the form of Mavis Staples and Gary Clark Jr., and production work by indie-legend Brad Cook, Alexander’s voice and stories are always at the center of the songs. Even as the album traverses varying (but always tasteful) pop, soul, gospel, and acoustic palettes, it maintains a remarkable emotional cohesion and is an instantly familiar and comfortable listen.
Perhaps as impressive as the album itself is the fact that Alexander created it less than a decade after first learning how to play music. Alexander’s path to SEA/SONS was far from conventional, taking a winding route from a childhood in Greece to a coming-of-age in Texas, and then an inspiring chance encounter with a pre-fame Leon Bridges that ultimately sent him on his current musical trajectory. It all shaped him as an artist and as a person, as well as the making of the record.
The songcraft and artistry that propel SEA/SONS were on full display on January 27th at First Avenue, where Alexander opened the Current’s 19th birthday party. There, over the course of his 30-minute set, Alexander captivated the audience with his voice, songs, and skillful guitar playing. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, Alexander’s sound more than filled the sold-out room.
Fans don’t have to wait long for another chance to see Alexander live in the Twin Cities. He’ll be back in town this weekend, opening for Black Violin at the State Theater. The venue should be a good fit, and the show will be one not to miss.
Below is a Q+A with Abraham Alexander. The following has been edited for consistency.
Music In Minnesota: On SEA/SONS, you’re very assured as both a singer and a songwriter. How has your songwriting process evolved since you began playing and writing?
Abraham Alexander: The evolution for me was realized when I was able to write about someone else’s experience. It was easy for me to write about my own journey, and I could never imagine myself creating art out of someone else’s. The shift from personal to external perspectives and finding beauty in creating art from others’ experiences adds depth to songwriting.
MIM: What areas of your artistry have grown and changed the most since you started?
AA: I would say my live performance. I suppose touring for 7-9 months straight will do that to you.
MIM: On SEA/SONS, you worked with Legends Mavis Staples and Gary Clark Jr. Can you speak to what their contributions meant and added to the record?
AA: I am so humbled and grateful that they would grace me with their talents. They have inspired my journey in music in every way, and to have them pour their voice directly into my debut record is a dream come true. Humbled and grateful.
MIM: What, to you, is the most rewarding part of performing the SEA/SONS songs live?
AA: Realizing my personal story became a theme of triumph for others.
MIM: The record blends different musical styles very effectively, I’m curious what you were listening to as you were making it and how those sounds influenced you.
AA: I was listening to Ray LaMontage, Kanye West, Daniel Ceasar, Jon Bellion, Justin Bieber, Gary Clark Jr., Leon Bridges, John Batiste, and Bill Withers, to name a few. They are all incredibly talented and said something with their art, and I just wanted to do the same thing.
MIM: A lot of great music has come out of Texas. How has Texas and the music from there influenced you as an artist?
AA: There is definitely something in the water here in Texas! I embrace all the gifts of being a Texan. Texas has allowed me to embrace and embark on the path of self-discovery. I think that’s the greatest gift I could ever receive.