Tommy Alexander’s music video for “Son of a Carpenter” takes us on a visual adventure through an abstract day in the life of the enigmatic songwriter, starting with us wandering through a library, climaxing with the burial of a book and finishing with the retrieval of said book in what can only be described as avant-garde art on steroids. Alexander is a captivating character in both the video and the song, which highlight his knack for generating smooth harmonies out of thin air and appointing them with a lush musical backdrop that only he is able to produce. It’s a sweet track from a talented young artist that could soundtrack a sunny afternoon as easily as it could an isolated evening of reflection.
There’s nothing overtly poppy about “Son of a Carpenter,” yet it’s undeniably hooky chorus is as catchy as anything we’d find while scanning the FM dial. Alexander has a very rustic sensibility to his style; almost like that of an aging icon who has discovered the eccentricity in his work for the first time. He’s a relatively fresh face for most of us, but he surprisingly doesn’t have any of the typical hallmarks you would find in a burgeoning young musician. I’m especially fond of his confidence; it’s rather infectious in this song.
Minimalism has been a big thing in pop music lately (to put it mildly), but I don’t think I’ve heard anyone manipulating it in quite the same way that Tommy Alexander is in this track. As mentioned before, it’s essentially devoid of any of the expected pop fodder that would tie it to mainstream airplay, but it has this sort of removed, existential quality to it that makes it play out more like a symphonic piece than it does an indie rock song. I don’t know that it was intentional based on the arrangement, but in any case it’s a sound that I would like to hear more of in the future.
“Son of a Carpenter” runs a little longer than some critics and fans might care for, although I would argue that where it isn’t as concise as some of its contemporaries it excels in the transmission of its opulent harmonies. This is a very nimble song, and even if you think he’s stretching the melody a little thin for the format, it’d still be difficult for you to refute the relatability and general warmth of its tonality. Call him a pop outsider, but don’t suggest that Alexander is ever selling us short on texture.
Thought provoking music in an age of glib imitation can be much more profound when consumed alongside some of the industry’s most heavily promoted singles, and I would tell anyone who picks up a copy of “Son of a Carpenter” to try this very experiment for themselves and then assess what they think of Tommy Alexander’s latest hit. When compared to the majority of pop songs released in the last year, “Son of a Carpenter” definitely brings a lot more originality to the table, and though its composer is still getting his feet wet in this business, as long as he keeps making songs like this one he’s going to have a long career ahead of him.