Is it Now? Mitch Alden's solo debute

by Sam Pheifle, The Portland Phoenix, 1.20.11

Mitch Alden has always been an earnest guy. Over the course of his previous three full-legnth records fronting pop-rock band NOW is NOW, he's made his bones penning new-agey, pop-rock, sunshiney tunes. Thus, when he goes to release a solo album, it's not surprising to find more of the same, though this time he plays just about all the instruments himself, but for three tracks with bass and drums supplied by old NOW is NOW friends Drew Wyman on bass and Neil Carroll on drums.

He recorded "Old Habits" with engineer Matthew Hennessey out in Chicago, at the same time running the Chicago marathon, so this is basically the definition of pouring your heart out. The tracks span his songwriting career, a good two decades, and are fraught with deep thoughts and heavy emotion.

"Lyric of Life" has a mandolin and a classic rock vibe that might remind you of Rod Stewart circa "Every Picture Tells a Story," but devoid of Stewart's animal instincts. Even in a track like "Replace," wher he arcs more Neil Young "Old Man" minor, the content - "there's a photograph that I like to see / it's pure emotion of delight" - is sort of secular Christian rock.

If you're the type who likes long, exhilarating hikes and often admires the view, and you need a pick-me-up, throw this in the player, and get road-tripping.

sam pfeifle is a staff writer for the portland phoenix.