The Scotsman Sessions #162: John Alexander

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Glasgow singer-songwriter John Alexander performs his lockdown-inspired song, Breathe.

There’s a certain yearning to head for the hills in singer-songwriter John Alexander’s Scotsman Sessions offering, Breathe. “It was specifically a summer lockdown song,” says Alexander, a performer steeped in blues and wider Americana, yet with a gritty style of his own – or as the title of his popular Fringe show declares, “Dustbowl blues with a Glasgow kick.”

Alexander’s songs can be inspired by landscape, weather or life in general, which fits with a Glasgow-based singer with a love of hillwalking and travelling. His last album was 2017’s Of These Lands. “I haven’t done one since,” he says, “but I’ve managed to use the lockdown fairly creatively, so I’ve got a whole bunch of songs that I’ll be doing something with in the new year. And Breathe is one of them.”

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He agrees that the song might reflect a need to be up and away: “I like getting into the hills and I like travelling, which obviously hasn’t happened much this year. I like just losing myself in the mist or in the sunshine – more often in the mist – and I try to capture that.”

John Alexander

His music seems to strike a certain dark chord with television producers on the other side of the Atlantic: his song Nowhere to Go figured in the US mini-series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, while Let Me Die was used in the western crime TV show Longmire.

The 44-year-old Alexander, who when not performing freelances as a construction consultant, spent his formative years listening to the likes of Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and John Martyn as well as blues greats such as Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

“I don’t actually perform straight blues, but certainly everything I do is tinged with the blues. It’s not 12-bar but it’s heartache and struggles all the same,” he laughs.

For more on John Alexander, visit www.johnalexander.info

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