“When I’m Gone (For George Michael)” by Rob Alexander
Long Road Coming Home, Floridian Rob Alexander’s debut album, has produced four stunning singles thus far. The fifth and latest single released from the recording, “When I’m Gone (For George Michael)”, more than holds its own in the illustrious company of its predecessors and solidifies Alexander’s claim for being one of the more compelling popular songwriting talents to emerge in recent memory. I am as taken, however, by his voice as I am his songwriting – he exhibits emotion and artful restraint at every turn and his lyrics have an eloquent conversational quality extending far beyond the purview of typical artists in this vein. Alexander is a practicing anesthesiologist and holds a faculty position with the Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine, but his musical talents are every bit as substantial despite serving different ends. They shine through during every second of “When I’m Gone”.
His voice is the natural centerpiece of the track. Alexander has spent his professional career in the medical field, along with teaching young aspirants to the profession, so it is all the more remarkable his vocal talents are so complete and well rounded. This is a performer and songwriter who has labored on his own often and well to refine his singing talents before he ever dared enter a studio with the idea of making an album. Many first time listeners to Alexander’s music will be bowled over by the startling emotive peaks his powerful voice reaches with little obvious effort. It may strike some as cliché to say there are those among us born to sing, but most clichés include a grain of truth and, in this case, each vocal line attests to Alexander’s innate talents.
It serves his cause well he works with such superior lyrical material. “When I’m Gone” is structured as a personal reflection about what will happen following the speaker’s death – how will they be remembered, how will people react, what lessons will individuals draw from the speaker’s demise? The thoughtfulness of the songwriting is welcome in a modern musical world often facile beyond reason. Alexander’s language doesn’t seek to remake the wheel, but it does have the hallmarks of a signature style rather than taking on the tropes and techniques of others. There is an inherent elegance in the writing capable of affecting even the most cynical listeners. Alexander is, without a doubt, quite sincere.
The music supports both the voice and lyrics with great artistry. It has a cinematic arrangement, growing from a muted opening into something far grander, and the composition shows a lot of patience arriving at its eventual wide-screen scale. It begins with his voice, piano, and a smattering of synthesizer before percussion, guitar, and authoritative drumming enter the fray. It is difficult, if not impossible, to deny the quality of the performance and writing. “When I’m Gone” is inspired by George Michael’s early death, but each second of this song feels fueled by something much deeper – Rob Alexander has something personal to say and he does so with great skill.
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