Alexander Wren / The Good in Goodbye
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A clever song title like “The Good in Goodbye” can be taken in a couple of different directions. One way would be to turn the phrase into a kiss-off, as in goodbye and good riddance. Fort Wayne-born singer-songwriter Alexander Wren takes it in a more tender direction, singing over spare instrumentation, about a breakup. “Someday I’ll find the good in goodbye,” he croons. It’s a complex sentiment, signifying loss and resignation but also hope.
Wren currently resides in Nashville, which is where the EP The Good in Goodbye was written and recorded. That town, of course, is known for its country music, although these days it has a great all-around music scene with players of all types. “The Good in Goodbye” isn’t overtly country, but it has mild country undertones. The first country-like element is the quality of loneliness and heartbreak. The song isn’t just a simple breakup; it seems to be about a perpetual on-and-off relationship. Wren sings “Girl, I’m so damn tired of writing you songs / They’re just wasting my paper and wishing you wrong / I’m sick of playin’ this game of pretend / Only counting the
days till you come back again.” The second country element is a light touch of steel guitar which augments the understated instrumentation.
For someone just 20 years old, Wren’s voice and lyrical approach exhibit a certain world-weariness that belies his age. Part of this maturity may come from his musical experience – he recorded and released two albums before even reaching high school and released two more EPs before graduating. If you’re wondering where you’ve heard of him before, at one time he was a winner on Indiana’s Got Talent. More recently, he was on the premiere episode of season 14 of American Idol where he made it to the Top 100.
Wren used the Idol appearance to build momentum for his career, first by launching a nine-state tour and now releasing the four-track
EP. “Good” may be its title track, but the true centerpiece of the EP
is “Morning Light,” a duet with Rebecca Daniel. Stretching to nearly seven minutes, it doesn’t completely reveal itself until halfway through its running length. The song starts off as a nimble mid-tempo, pop-sounding tune. At around the three-minute mark, though, the song shifts gears into a strings-and-piano affair. The song turns from catchy to haunting, with the piano insistent and the strings graceful.
Overall, the four-track EP is a strong and surprisingly mature release for the Fort Wayne-born singer-songwriter. His strength comes from a sense of sadness that undergirds his voice, lyrics and instrumentation – which he’s wise enough to approach sparingly, allowing the weight of emotion to show through without crowding the songs with unnecessary ornamentation.