When J. Alan Schneider released his new EP On Precipice in October, we couldn’t wait to see him perform the new record on stage – an EP so tenderly rich with patient guitar riffs, soft and timid melodies and a surrealism of vivid imagery that can only be bred from one of the scene’s most gifted folk artists.
We sat down with the J. Alan last month to discuss his EP’s lead single, "The State Line," and the creative process behind the records overall theme. There was no doubt that the Queens-bred indie-folk artists' haunting elegance, lyrical illustrations and raw storytelling ability were shown graciously throughout the EP would eventually marvel on stage during his release performance. We were anxiously waiting to see how it would play out.
Alan’s performance at Rockwood Music Hall’s stage 3 last Wednesday guided us through the singer-songwriter’s journey of accepting and adapting to fate. Alan’s timid vocals, distinct honesty and acoustic sound channeled an uncanny tale of human emotion, atonement and reflection that was touched with each fabric of his lyrical shroud. His music was a shepherd to our ears, placing tranquil and raw sentiments that maintained a sense of noir while Alan ruminated through his guitar play.
His performances to "Labor Day" and "All The Same" shined gently with precious harmonies, profound, yet tender acoustics and caressing lyricism that brought us into Alan’s consciousness and reflective artistry. With candid lyrics such as, “What if the world was taking place/behind a camera phone/and if the world was breaking down/ would anybody know/if it’ll grow on frozen ground under seas/ will it be,” Alan’s precedence on these songs are illustrated through expressive storytelling and compositions, that exemplify the artist’s unique folk-singing approach.
On the EP’s leading single, "The State Line," Alan’s performance portrayed hints of melancholic imagery and delicate melodies for his warm, yet dark take on fate. Alan’s passionate and relieving vocals helped serene a soothing crowd from the portrayal of his voice and earnest guitar strings.
On his song, "They’re On to Us," Alan’s displayed a euphorically glowing performance that gently whispered over amplifying strings and calming percussion. His gifted storytelling ability is shown through his tantalizing and subtle lyrics through the song. “This day belongs to us/,” Alan crooned, “The cracks and gleams and scuff/and the side streets are so rough/ they lied to us/.” Another illustration of Alan’s purity and veracity that relished as we witnessed the folk artist perform.
J. Alan Schneider’s artistry is an esthetic platform for the contemporary indie-folk catalog. His work as a singer-songwriter is purified through the honesty of his lyrics, gentle, yet rough-edged compositions and a blistering vocal that helps us captivate our own humanity. Through his themes of fate, lost and reflection, Alan utilizes his musical talent as a wandering storyteller, passing though the events of common folk, while also contemplating his own path. His music is raw and stellar to the indie-folk scene and is a pedestal that fans of this scene can relate with: truly a treasure worth witnessing and listening to.