From the retro pop balladry of “Above Water” to the more buoyant melodies of “Calling My Angels,” Alex Krawczyk has a lot to share as a singer/songwriter in her new album Le Olam. Her voice is the guiding light through the darkness – represented by the absence of indulgence behind her – and there’s rarely an instance in this tracklist in which she isn’t singing to some level of optimism in the poetry. Tracks like “I Will Take You Home” offer her a chance to flex harmonic muscle brilliantly, but even in these moments, she holds steadfast in her conservative approach to the music.
“Simple Man” is one of the folkier tunes in the latter half of Le Olam, but its passive melodicism doesn’t replace the same linguistic gumption we find in other songs like “Turning.” While “Turning” borrows some rock themes that don’t seemingly belong wedged between “Better Days” and “As a River Does,” its surreal lead vocal gives it a hue of Americana that matches up well with the material featured throughout the record. Aesthetics are up for manipulation in Krawczyk’s style, but they’re never found to be corrupted by some sense of artistic entitlement on her part.
“As a River Does” couples the textural output of “Full Moon Rising” with the tonal supportiveness of “Simple Man” elegantly, and I like that it features a singer who isn’t scared of efficiency, even if it means steering clear of the predictable elements some would consider required in making a proper pop effort. Krawczyk comes off as someone who isn’t particularly fazed by ambitiousness; she’s carrying a lot of ideas with her into the studio, and her desire to make them come to fruition in a smart manner speaks volumes about who she is as an artist.
I would have stuck “Remember” ahead of “Full Moon Rising” in the tracklist, but I can also understand why it was necessary to give the second act in Le Olam a little more oomph than the first. “There Will Be Light” feels like the natural lead single for this LP, and it builds on the themes of “Remember” like the two are progressive siblings rather than simple tracklist neighbors, adding to the allusion of conceptualism beneath the lyrics of all these songs. The same can be said for “Up Ahead,” and really everything that improves the fluidity of this content.
Coming into my review of Le Olam, I was not listening to nor that familiar with who Alex Krawczyk was, but there’s no debating whether or not she’s earning her buzz in this collection of songs. There are scores of talented singer/songwriters getting into the primetime at the moment, but this is one of the first indie players I’ve heard in 2022 who doesn’t need a lot of grooming to make a play for the next stage of the game. Forget crossovers and attempts at legacy recording – she’s original, unrelentingly melodic, and eager to try what a lot of her peers are just too reticent to.