Review: Alex Carpenter’s Snapshots EP


I’ve always been a fan of Alex Carpenter‘s approach to music. In a 2012 interview with LeakyNews, he explained his organic song-writing process:

[Music and lyrics] usually happen at the same time. I’ll be humming along as I play a chord progression and that slowly evolves into a phrase or hook or lyric, and from there I just play the song over and over until it takes form. It’s a bit like sculpting on a pottery wheel. And at the end, I have this little misshapen thing to turn in and have it be fired into permanence.

Last week, Alex released his Snapshots EP online. This EP is rather unique in that we knowingly hear a step in that song-writing process before, presumably, we get the final product. On his Bandcamp page for the EP, Alex notes:

Snapshots is a stripped down acoustic album meant to give the listener an idea of the bare bones ideas for these songs. Instead of releasing them fully produced and then going back to do an acoustic album that sounded more like the original concept, I thought I’d release the more raw versions first.

What this approach provides for us as an audience is a glance into Alex’s compositional technique. These first recordings sound like we are being let into an intimate, raw performance, something more like Alex’s impromptu acoustic shows at LeakyCon – except with new music.

Among the songs on navigating relationships, moving forward, and nostalgia, my favorite track is the unexpected “Catching Up With You.”

At the end of the EP, this track follows “For You,” a sweet song about connecting across time. In fact, the first four tracks on this EP tend to be warm and reflective, with catchy choruses featuring Alex’s ethereal upper register. “Catching Up With You” turns the tables to something a little darker, maybe even angrier, and Alex highlights this change by shifting to the low end of his vocal range. With stinging lines like “your words will sink you like a stone,” this final song leaves the listener feeling righteously empowered.

You can find Snapshots on Alex’s Bandcamp.