Photo credit: Giraffe Studios
LA’s most mysterious songwriter Alex Izenberg has teamed up with the legendary “Sir Paul McCartney #4” on his latest single, “Ivory.” An anti-love song of sorts, the “Ivory” video features a cameo from New York City’s finest version of the famed Beatle.
Alex on “Ivory”: “I don’t know if it’s as much of a story as me trying to tell a story, because I don’t consider myself to be a storyteller like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, but I guess it was me kind of going for that. It could be interpreted in different ways, depending on what your mood is, but I think it kind of can be interpreted as a fancy couple going out and how they’re not really in love but they’re still together. And then “real love will stone you” at the end of the chorus can be interpreted as them finding out they’re not in love. I was kind of going for a “Best of My Love” Eagles kind of vibe. That song I think is about the singer just being hopelessly in love with somebody and just telling her she gets the best of his love. Lyrically it’s not quite the same but the vibe I was going for.”
“Ivory” is the third single off of Alex’s forthcoming studio album, I’m Not Here, due out May 20th via Domino imprint Weird World. It follows the catchy, retro-pop romp “Sorrows Blue Tapestry” and the upbeat and elegant “Egyptian Cadillac.”
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.
Previous praise for Alex Izenberg:
“Astonishing baroque pop.”
Sunday Times Culture
“This album will leave listeners peaceful but reflective, and wanting to hear what comes next from this gentle soul.”
Loud & Quiet
“A little bit R. Stevie Moore and a little bit Burt Bacharach, Alex Izenberg is back with another album of homespun pop music.”
“Izenberg has discovered a way to make classic, quirky pop touchstones into something completely his own.”
Consequence of Sound
“As pretty as all heavenly nice things.”
“Just enough sweetness and heart.”
“A woozy, low-key triumph.”