The raw material of modern songwriting develops out of life experiences. The moving retelling of what an individual takes from or feels because of an experience is the stuff of finesse, awareness, and delicate precision. Fully realized, this process results in a move beyond communication and on towards compassion - or the sharing of an experience. While most harness this ability through a process that inadvertently forfeits the willing spirit that birthed the experience in the first place, Alex Masters has rendered hers instead as a conduit of solidarity and promise to the listening ear.
Raised in the heyday of Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and Martina McBride Alex started to develop her abilities even as a small child in Virginia picking up a three-stringed guitar in an effort to tell her family a story. Seeking to refine these instincts, she made her way to Nashville to attend Belmont University’s esteemed School of Music. While Alex initially resisted pursuing the country music she grew up with on her family farm in Berryville, Virginia her internship at Corman Music working under Nate Lowery and songwriting powerhouse Brett James soon found her rekindling a love for the music of her roots.
With academic credentials in hand, Alex surrounded herself with a cast of stellar musicians to record an album representing a wide range of musical influences and significant life experiences. Under the guidance and support of BMI’s Beth Laird and songwriter Paul Alan, Alex landed co-writes with songwriting stalwarts like two-time Grammy Award winning producer Nathan Chapman (Jewel, Sara Evans, Colbie Caillat, Taylor Swift) and Grammy Award winner Liz Rose (Gary Allen, Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood, Bonnie Rait, Tim McGraw, Josh Tuner, Kellie Pickler). After nearly two years of writing, the vibrant musician painstakingly widdled down her collection of close to 100 songs to yield the masterful seven-song EP, Long Way Home.
This radio-ready collection of meticulously selected songs serve as textbook examples of modern country’s ability to appeal outside its traditional boundaries. Dynamic pop force, traditional country embellishments, and Alex’s invitingly pure vocal performance drive through the album from title track “Long Way Home” to toe-tapping closer “You Stay.” In every song, Alex’s emotional availability remains a thematic highlight. While other performers stick to channeling someone else’s story, her intimate vulnerability surmounts to heartbreaking proportions as she sings, “Hello sixteen, hello naïve, hello past still haunting me” in “I Would’ve Said No.” Her most powerful moments however, eschew wisdom seemingly beyond her years as she cleverly asks “How long does maybe take?” in the ghostly “Jesus & Roses” or pleas, “hold me like I’m breakable” in the Appalachia tinged “Breakable”.
To Alex Masters, singing and songwriting have embodied themselves as both craft and calling. Her laborious progression as a student of country songwriting allows her to play the role of an articulate messenger of simple hope. Her songs remind us that in the constant growing process that is life, pain and heartache are as valuable and unavoidable as eager hope and boundless joy.
By: K.R. Williams