As may be obvious by now, I’ve been following the trajectory of singer-songwriter Alex Ruimy aka Zalex, since 2015, and consider him one of the finest pop music songwriters of the last decade bar none. The fact that he is not yet a household name is irrelevant, and can certainly be put down to the mainstream marketing mechanisms, or the artist’s respectful desire to not want to scale a level into the creatively suffocating hysteria of the commercial music business. In fact, he refers to himself as a ‘hobby singer-songwriter’. Either way, he has continued to independently release remarkably enchanting music over the years, and after a short break is back with a brand new EP, entitled ‘Hindsight’, which can be considered his quarantine recording, which he wrote and produced during quarantine, and a cross-country move.
‘Hindsight’ is an alluring record, vulnerable, powerful and urgently captivating. Zalex always has a profound perspective on life, and his force of personality gently ravishes tracks that otherwise might sound simply endearing on the outside. His best songs perform a kind of magic, with sentiments that feel universal to all of us but are as personal as his own fingerprints. It’s actually amazing how much ground this recording covers.
Between an array of enthralling tunes, great lyrics and a beguiling, wistful voice, ‘Hindsight’ has everything that an EP needs to truly make an impact. If you were under the impression that his previous works may have just been a fluke, this recording will surely change your mind. Zalex continues to mark himself as one of the strongest pop songwriters in the game.
The flow between these tracks is impeccable, with the opening song ‘PIECES’ setting the tone of the EP perfectly and the remainder of the tracks establishing, and confirming the organic beauty of its sound. This first track is about the artist’s mother and brings a strong sense of nostalgia: “If you look at your love. Look at your life. Always start behind. Relive the world inside. Look at your love. To yourself be kind. If you’re looking at life. Look at mine,” sings Zalex.
In his affect, production, and writing, Zalex telegraphs extraordinary sensitivity with an extraordinary, sense of control. His emotions and sensibilities are never overwhelming, as he draws and outlines the lyrical imagery, allowing you to fill in your personal colors.
The words, “I lost my friend. She was the only one I had. I can’t pretend this room gets any warmer,” slides in on an almost playful strum of the acoustic guitar in ‘FRIEND’. But it really hides a heartfelt ode to a dear friend, named Cookie. “Sleep in peace, my friend. You can close your eyes. You’ll feel this love the rest of your life,” are words that only those who truly bond with their companions will appreciate, as Zalex honors the love between himself and his special friend, Cookie the guinea pig.
“Well you and I live in a deck of cards. We’re dealt around a hand of life. That shuffles who we are,” are the words that intriguingly opens Zalex’s reflections on reincarnation in ‘ENDLESS’. The track makes vivid and lasting replies to our doctrinal thinking. “This life is just a frame inside a reel. And never ending moving pictures. Cast and scored reveal,” sings Zalex, his voice wrapped in warm conciliatory tones, his songwriting precious. “Next time around. Maybe I’m your brother. Next time around. Maybe we’re each other.”
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that can cause above-normal levels of hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. It’s a disorder that Zalex tackles directly, and in the first person, on ‘NORMAL’. “No I will never be more. I’ll never be no more. I will never be normal.” Further on in the song he alludes to the behavior the therapies and chemical medication. There’s a slight tone of hindrance and frustration in his voice but never a hint of resignation, only disconcerted acceptance.
The EP closes with the mechanisms and intricacies of change in ‘ORIGAMI’. “Oh the shape that you can see. Just another side of me. And the shape I claimed to be. Was only the space surrounding me. Fold me up orthogonally. I’m only origami. And I can be what you can make of me.” Ironically, or cleverly, Zalex’s voice runs through a shape-shifting vocoder effect, which adds an extra dimension to the narrative and overall impact of the song.
The EP ‘Hindsight’ is a story that rewrites life’s highly affecting tropes, in Zalex’s own image and experiences. This is an exceptional recording, from a strictly entertaining viewpoint, but maybe more importantly it’s also a beacon for people who struggle to reconcile their own afflictions and aspirations, with their potential for serenity, joy and love in life. This project has showcased that Zalex’s performing, producing and songwriting abilities have sharpened to the highest degree, as has his voyages of self-discovery.