Ian Alexy: Broken Billy

Ian Alexy Broken Billy

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Songwriter, guitarist, and singer Ian Alexy has a new handle. He describes it saying, “Broken Billy is the name of my band and music and perhaps even an alias for myself.” His new album, titled what else butBroken Billy, is a collage of styles framed in solid musicianship.

Ian Alexy has been around. From what he describes as, “Graduating from the strangest neo-psychedelic-punk-rock school you've never seen, called Goddard College, in 2000” out east, to Teague Alexy With Medication, to The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank. His latest incarnation is something that is divorced from what you may have heard in the past, yet it incorporates his travels in the songs that emerge. What has always stayed solid have been Ian’s lyrics and the way he plays guitar. His new album, Broken Billy,hits the streets of Duluth via Pizza Luce this Friday, January 28th. White Iron Band’s Nicholas "The Feelin" Mrozinski opens the show.

Listening to Broken Billy is like taking a cross-country trip through musical sounds and places, but with Ian’s singing the same throughout. The CD begins with, “Big City Big Sky”, and has a slow paced rock feel. The refreshing note is that the lyrics can be clearly heard and understood. Ian doesn’t shy away from mixing poetry into his music either. In “Big City Big Sky” he sings, “I dream of big cities and I dream of big skies – Take me to heaven after I die.”

“Blame Me” has Mary Bue join Ian, and the tune becomes soft country with a dash of southern rock charm. The next song, “Alive Tonight”, has this mountain bluegrass guitar picking with electric highlights shining through. Ian sings, “Dreams are for dreamers and dreamers are lonely – wondering lost little ones.” He also says that, “You’re young at 33.” And since 40 is the new 30, who doesn’t agree with that?

“Farewell Friend” is more upbeat and stands out on the album. You have to search for the sound, but it has this 1980s boiled down feel. The accompaniment plays something different so the song is new and old at the same time. Which can be said about almost anything in music ever written.

“Reasons” is a hopeful tune that has a California rock sort of sound. It is followed by “Dancefloor” and an up-tempo staccato guitar. “Cold Country” is a nice country afternoon duet, but it really took until “Fiction” to finally put the entire album together. The last song, “Fiction”, has a Michael Stipe, REM feel, mixed with guitar rock.

Broken Billy is easy to listen to and has a young adult sound. It doesn’t fit into a specific category, and instead moves between several. This should be expected from someone who has played in bands that performed jazz, hip-hop, bluegrass, rock, and everything else. There is a little something for everyone in on Broken Billy.