Charlotte, NC-based songwriter, musician, and singer Matthew Alexander released new album Midnight Dream Station, in May of 2023, via Caravan Records. Drums and electric bass were provided by Jazz musicians Al Sergel IV and Ron Brendle and the album was co-Produced and engineered by Chris Green. Some of its themes included reflecting on “life’s mysteries” and attempting to “lift listeners’ spirits during these uncertain times.”
Today, we’re very pleased to debut the live play video for album track “The Upside of Down” which is very much in keeping with the themes we find on Midnight Dream Station. In fact, it both combines a reflection on life’s mysteries and it has elements that are likely to lift one’s spirits as we heed advice about the many highs and lows that life offers and are encouraged to discern the interdependence of those things in order to make peace with life’s inherent difficulties. Or as the song describes is, to “learn to sail with the tides.”
The unadorned piano work that Alexander uses to build the song and the conversational delivery of the lyrics encourages audiences to take the emotional value of the song seriously and give these ideas personal reflection. Repetition of the phrases “downside of up” and “upside of down” makes sure that the ideas are brought home gently, mantra like, though they always feel more like a suggestion than a mandate. The subtext may well be that Alexander is aware that these are not always easy or comfortable ideas to process.
Visual comparisons to colorful aspects of life and soulfulness in piano arrangement counterbalance the heavier aspects of the song’s ideas and seem to suggest that it’s entirely up to the audience to decide whether they can accept these dualities in life in a helpful way.
Matthew Alexander shares:
I was asked to write a wedding song for two dear friends who met in rehab. They have both struggled with addiction for much of their adult lives as well as mood swings. Their “ups” in life had often led them to make bad decisions. Had it not been for their “downs”, however, they never would have met and found a partner that truly makes them happy. As it turned out, there was an “upside of down” just like previously there had been “a downside of up.” It seems to occur like this often in life — good things come out of bad, and sometimes bad things come out of good. The dance of life requires that we temper our highs and weather our lows…and maybe learn a thing or two in the process.
In contrast to his previous seven albums, Alexander built Midnight Dream Station around the piano, which we also see in the new video, and he also bucks the trend these days by focusing on the craft of the LP and carefully sequencing the songs on the album for audiences.
The album’s title comes from Alexander’s life in dreams, as he explains:
I was in Jungian analysis in my twenties which gave me great respect for the brilliance and creative potential of nightly dreams. I keep a dream journal every day and marvel at the depth of self-insight that can be found by interpreting my dreams. And in many ways, as a romantic and optimist, I do a lot of daydreaming as well. Dreams keep us alive and engaged.
Alexander has been a singer and songwriter since he was a young teen and had music pitched to groups such as the Turtles. He opened for Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, played with Carly Simon and Bonnie Raitt, and studied with Paul Simon. His eighth solo album, Soul River, peaked at #11 on the Folk Alliance International Album Chart for November 2020.
Many of the songs on Midnight Dream Station stem from a renewed focus on vocal exercises and writing more challenging and complex music during the pandemic period. Following that, “The Upside of Down” was streamed at the 2022 International Resiliency Conference to an audience of more than 10,000 attendees from 49 countries.