Alex Rahal’s new album, Restless, debuts tomorrow, but we have the exclusive premiere for you today — because he’s “alive, and therein lies the reason for everything worth pursuing.”
“Songwriting saved my life,” says Rahal, co-founder of psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll band Them Vibes. He’s now stepping out on his own with the album Restless, a title that not only encompasses his need to create music, but a feeling that we have all become only too familiar with over the past 18 months.
It would be reductive to describe Restless as a lockdown album, however. Its tactile, delicate production harkens back to days when music could only be heard in between the static of the radio, from turntables, or crooned over drinks in dusty bars. Stuck in the past, but while encapsulating a lyricism that could only come from 2021, Rahal effortlessly straddles generations in his sound.
Simplistic mottos like “you need soul if you wanna get by,” pepper an album that sounds as much like a mission statement as it does casual entertainment. Lyrics are sung from the perspective of someone, not who knows everything, but who has come to the realization and acceptance of, the fact that nothing is certain — other than perhaps the strings on your guitar. Inspiration comes from everything from raindrops on a windowpane, to following the positivity in a life that can so often be full of disappointment.
Highlights include the mantric “Snihyami Tvahi,” in which Rahal explores his own world view in song form, dropping pearls of wisdom along the way. There’s also the understated “Letter From a Forgotten Town,” heart-wrenching to listen to in its sweet simplicity. Opener “Tapping On My Window” brings the funk and kicks off the album to a riotous start.
Encompassing rock ‘n’ roll, soul, country, folk, and Americana, this album is tied together with a throughline of psychedelica and lyrical know-how. Rahal has absolutely nailed his themes, aesthetics, and goals for this album, creating a masterful modern psychedelic folk classic.