Review: Alex Cameron dares to be provocative

Alex Cameron/Oxy Music/Secretly Canadian
Four out of five stars

Recorded at the start of the stop, Oxy Music offers an emphatic response to a world suddenly turned upside down and driven to the brink of hopelessness and despair. It’s an outstanding collection of songs, which effectively breaks down the barrier between singer and song, especially considering the thoughtfulness and resolve shared in each offering. i am not mehe sings on the track called “Breakdown”. I’m my sanity, I’m the latest popular craze, I’m off the pitch.

Cameron is constantly candid about his own insecurity and uncertainty caused by this precarious state of existence, and he makes no effort to conceal his vulnerability. Opening offering, the solid and simple “Best Life” finds him moaning, There’s nothing like the feeling, of when you do something, or just waking up like this, like what life is even like?

The answer to this open question remains unanswered, but Cameron’s absolute insistence on exploring the possibilities is admirable in itself. Song after song he tries to find a sense of affirmation – or at least to understand what is going on in his inner psyche. It’s a brave undertaking, of course, that finds a mixture of pain and emotion in equal measure. Yet it also manages to come across as erased. Again, the lyrics are remarkably expressive.

I don’t wanna look like an A hole
I don’t want you to think I’m ungrateful

Considering the fact that these melodies sound so remarkably resilient, Cameron can easily be forgiven for any supposed missteps. “Sara Jo,” “Hold the Line,” the title track, and the aforementioned “Breakdown” are catchy and demonstrative, belying any lack of confidence that lingers under the radar. And while some songs – “Dead Eyes” and “Cancel Culture” (the latter with a shallow rap for Lloyd Vines) – take a thoughtful stance, they aren’t shy about trying to find definitive results. This latest offering is particularly provocative, but then again, it’s clear that Cameron is just asking a question via a search for answers, both for himself and presumably for his audience as well.

Considering the difficulties of putting together an album remotely in the midst of a pandemic, while trying to overcome one’s terror and worry, one would have to judge Oxy Music a decided success. Kudos to Cameron for building up his strength and providing us with such a bold undertaking.

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