CD review: Alden switches speeds and carries his solo debut with incredible voice

by aimsel ponti, GO! / the portland press herald, 1.20.11

Now is Now frontman Mitch Alden has just released his first solo record, "Old Habits." On it, he goes back and forth between straight-up rock and folk-tinged ballads.

Acoustic rocker "The Lyric of Life" sets the tone of "Old Habits" with its optimistic theme and words: "The lyric will give and the lyric will take/ The good with the bad and the love with hate/ Seducing our thoughts emotions unite/ Surrender yourself to the lyric of life."

Alden's got a voice with enough of a bite to keep me interested in what he has to say. I'd be lying if I said it didn't bring to mind former Live lead singer Ed Kowalczyk, but last time I checked, that's a compliment.

"Replace" is a slower tune, and it's pure Alden: "The way your hair reflects the light and the innocence within your eyes/ This picture captures all that's right, it's a feeling that I can't deny."

Alden plays acoustic and electric guitars (quite well I might add), bass, percussion and keyboards on "Old Habits." Guest players include Drew Wyman on bass, drummer Neil Carroll and vocalist Pam Hennessy. Alden also gets the songwriting and producer credits.

Most of the CD was recorded by Matthew Hennessy at VSOP Productions in Chicago and Jim Begley at The Studio in Portland. Alden says the eight songs (there's also a terrific hidden bonus track) were penned over a 20-year period.

The CD-release show for "Old Habits" is at 10 p.m. Friday at Ri-Ra Irish Pub, 72 Commercial St., Portland. The CD is also available for purchase on iTunes,, and at all live performances.

MITCH ALDEN: "Old Habits"
LABEL: Self-released

aimsel ponti is a portland freelance writer for the portland press herald.