Alex Krawczyk’s “Le Olam”

Relaxed as a lazy afternoon spent under the summer sun, a whisper of an instrumental melody introduces us to the warmth of “There Will Be Light,” the closing track in Alex Krawczyk’s new album Le Olam. As the song begins to unfold, it quickly becomes obvious that this relatively simple ballad is bound to unleash a divine force of energy under the command of Ms. Krawczyk, whose voice inevitably joins the gentle strings and piano as though the three were always meant to be together here. It’s one of the most natural pop performances I’ve heard this year, but hardly the lone gem contained in Le Olam.

The vocal harmonies in this LP are essential to appreciating the depth of the songwriting here, and those in the rousing “Full Moon Rising” and “Remember,” the latter of which features Dione Taylor, are some of the best in the tracklist. Krawczyk is always delivering her verses with a sense of fragility that never impedes the urgency of a beat so much as it emphasizes the severity of her statements, all of which seem to be sourced directly from her heart. This isn’t amateur hour, but a debut LP steeped in personality.

There’s an aesthetical diversity to the foundations of “Up Ahead,” “Calling My Angels,” “As a River Does,” and “Simple Man” that ties together elements of jazz, blues, country, and traditional pop, but I don’t get the feeling that Krawczyk is searching for her identity in this record. Contrarily, she does such an amazing job of creating a hybrid sound in Le Olam that a lot of her experimental peers could learn something from her example; instead of layering concepts together, she’s letting harmony and tone dictate the artistic framework of a song. That’s not easy for most players, let alone those on the come-up.

Occasionally bluesy and consistently optimistic in spirit, Le Olam is a deeply immersive listen that will leave you very curious to hear more from Alex Krawczyk in the future. She doesn’t have a sound that’s likely to stay hidden beneath the shadows of the American underground for long, and in Le Olam, she makes it quite obvious that her ambitiousness isn’t about to foster a low profile in this industry. If anything, this is just a glimpse of what’s still to come in her discography, which already has a record more than worthy of an AOTY nomination or two.

Rachel Townsend

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