Alex Velasco is a true child of the world. The Czech-Phillipine artist was born in Melbourne, moved to Berlin, and financed her first album by packing boxes at Amazon. Imbued is like one of these boxes, filled with curiosity, wonder, and a tinge of melancholy, communicated through nylon string guitar, double bass and 5-string violin. It seems simultaneously at home everywhere and nowhere, strands of melody emerging from various stations before heading in different directions. One can imagine these songs standing before a Departures sign and hugging farewell.
“May” is a wistful opener, akin to the thoughts of a passenger in transit between countries, missing one land while feeling butterflies about the other. What aspects will make the artist feel at home? Will it be family, a new group of friends, connection with heritage, a job, a feeling of being needed? To complicate the matter, Velasco moved in the middle of the pandemic. She found herself at a literal crossroads: an Amazon warehouse, the new soulless conjuction of the world. In contrast, her compositions are soul-filled; at the two-minute mark of the appropriately-titled “Fulcrum,” her music turns declarative, as if a decision has been made. The same turn occurs in “Surge,” which does just one one expects late in the piece.
The tracks flow beautifully from one to the next, like a stream of consciousness. The titles, however, describe a jumbled cavalcade of experiences. “Unravel” seems the saddest in name, although the timbre is as comforting as an autumn blanket. The last emotional title is “Brittle,” a slow piece that does seem fragile, albeit less like a heart than a wafer. Even in her most vulnerable moments, the artist offers soft consolation to both herself and her listeners. Questions of identity may swirl about the release, but in the end, it seems as if Velasco has found her home in herself: a creative fountain she carries within her, wherever she may roam. The fact that the final piece is titled “Prelude” speaks of new doors wide open, beckoning for her to enter. (Richard Allen)