Material: Singer-songwriter Alex Bloom brought a short but sweet set to Molly Malone’s. The songs and arrangements were strong, although the lyrics were impossible to understand. Most notable arrangements were Bloom’s guitar line in “Cigarette,” as well as the acoustic guitar that complements the rest of the band in “93.” Bloom’s closer, “Elevator,” was a fantastic choice, highlighting his unique voice as arranger and songwriter.
Musicianship: As a frontman, Bloom’s songwriting process was beautifully transparent through his arrangement choices, creating a unique and surprising intimacy with the audience. Guitarist Jake Noveck and drummer James Prinzi carried the band in a way that highlighted the most beautiful sections. Noveck took tasteful solos in addition to providing a solid second guitar part. Bloom’s switch to electric guitar at the end of the set was also incredible—I wish he had done it sooner! His tone on the instrument complemented his voice perfectly and switching off between the two throughout the set could have added an entirely new level.
Performance: With its elevated stage, Molly Malone’s is a difficult venue for a singer-songwriter; the distance between the band and the audience diminishes the connection and intimacy that songwriters rely on. This, among other factors, set the show’s arc off balance at times—the arrangements took off energy- wise while the band was still grasping at the audience’s mood. Additionally, background vocals were under-rehearsed; although this is typical of the genre, it was distracting. The vocals and performance overall on “Elevator” were the exception. The arrangements and songwriting, as opposed to the actual performance, are what made this show engaging—the highlights were Noveck’s playing and Bloom’s adeptness as a guitarist, which was solid throughout and clearly the genesis of his creativity.
Summary: Bloom is undoubtedly skilled and inspired. Overall, however, the arc and energy level of his set needs work. A cover song may have helped the audience connect with the artist’s vision as well, as the rest of the set felt confused and unsure. Nevertheless, as he stated during the set, several of the songs he performed are not due to be released for another few months. I’m optimistic that the recorded versions of his arrangements and songs will not disappoint and I look forward to their release!