The Dutch Courage Album

 
Alex Meaney’s love affair with music started at the age of 10, when he became a chorister and took up piano and violin. At 16, he was teaching himself to play acoustic guitar, ukulele and harmonica, and beginning to experiment with writing his own material. As a songwriter, he blends folk-rock with country-rock and Americana, and cites his principal influences as Bob Dylan, The Band, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, The Waterboys and Ryan Adams. As a cover artist/interpreter, he plays a wide range of music, though Americana is his first love.

Having spent his twenties playing live gigs at pubs and parties while doubling as a wine merchant, Alex’s career in music moved up a gear when he moved to Asia in 2009. He began to play professional gigs, both solo and with his band Sub Prime. Moving back to the UK five years later, he decided the time had come to commit full-time to music. With a fair number of songs in his bag, he set about raising the money to produce a disc. The result is Dutch Courage.

The name is significant for a couple of reasons. It references Alex’s childhood, which was spent living in the Netherlands. But it was also inspired by a difficult period of his life and how music gave him the courage to fight his demons. Two years ago, he thought he was dying of a heart attack. After a terrifying ambulance ride and tense night in hospital, he was given the all-clear — but not before he’d had time to reflect on his life and what needed to change.

“There’s nothing like thinking you’re about to die to concentrate the mind on the really important things in life,” Alex says now, looking back on a dark time, made darker by several months of chronic anxiety. “It signalled a profound change in me and I realised I had to live life, rather than let life live me.” He made the decision to give up smoking, put himself out there and achieve a life dream: to record an album. A proper, professionally produced album, rather than something knocked together on a home studio system. The song Life Is A One Time Offer came out of this episode, as did Crisis. Explaining the journey that lead him to write the latter, Alex says: “I really only had my music to turn to at that point. It was the only thing that offered catharsis and helped ease my mind.”

While several of the songs on Dutch Courage sprung from this challenging period, the album’s message is one of optimism. It’s about new beginnings and old friends. It’s about letting go and coming home. It covers the spectrum of emotions, from regret, sorrow and disillusionment to love, longing and, above all, hope.

Alex freely admits that Dutch Courage would not have happened without the vision and encouragement of producer and musician-extraordinaire, Steve Darrell Smith, whose many credits include a number one with Sandi Thom's I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker. “Steve’s incredibly calm but his unflappable exterior hides a huge passion for making music,” Alex says. “He’s not only a musician, a producer, an engineer, an arranger and a songwriter, but he’s an inspirational mentor. Working with him has been the thrill of a lifetime.”

Making Dutch Courage marks the start of a happier and healthier way of life: to allow him time to explore his career in music, Alex has taken on a number of part-time jobs: he screens CVs, he works in a wine bar, he contributes to a drinks magazine, he’s set himself up as a chauffeur. He credits a line in a song by the great Gregory Page — “It’s never too late to be the person you were meant to be…” with inspiring him to, as he puts it, “unchain myself from all the things I’d unwittingly chained myself to”.


'Dutch Courage'  is available for download on this site (a download is accompanied by a CD) as well as on all the download & streaming platforms. 
 
THE MUSICIANS 


Steve Darrell Smith - bashing/shaking various things + on various keyboards/organs + using his fine vocal chords + production/engineering and mentoring; as well as mixing & mastering. Accompanied by Scott McKeon and Simon Johnson (currently members of Tom Jones's touring band); Melvin Duffy (a world-class pedal-steel guitarist - First Aid Kit, The Waterboys, Robbie Williams, among many others); Hannah Robinson (on backing vocals, and a singer-songwriter herself); Lucy Martin (a classical and folk violinist); Chas Dickie (cellist; Gordon Haskell, among many others); Russ Parker (a Dorset-based studio, gigging & teaching drummer) and last but not least Alex's cousin Roland Fraser, a gigging Scottish folk/ceilidh fiddler, completing this cast of characters.

For the full list of musicians and what they played, please visit the 'buy album' page.


PHOTOGRAPHY & ALBUM ART 

The final piece in the jigsaw was photography and album art; thankfully Alex had to look no further than his old-friend-of-26 years Ray Tarantino (www.raytarantino.com), a professional photographer as well as a recording artist himself, with three albums to his name. 

REVIEWS SO FAR 

'The Musician' (Journal of the Musicians' Union), Autumn 2016 - Reviewed By Keith Ames:

"Heartening Americana from the pen, guitar and voice of homegrown country rocker Alex, who impresses with his mature lyrics and delightful melodies. This is deserving of both day and night time airplay." 


And as one recent listener put it:

"The album encompasses a lot of emotions that we all experience in our lives - remorse, sorrow, disillusionment, nostalgia, anger, protest; but also certainly love, longing and hope."


More reviews will follow as they come in. Thank you so much for visiting.

ALEX IS DONATING £2.00 PER ALBUM ORDERED VIA THIS WEBSITE TO THE UNICEF CHILDREN'S CHARITY 

PLEASE CLICK ON 'CONTACT' AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET IN TOUCH WITH ALEX 
Heartening Americana from the pen, guitar and voice of homegrown country rocker Alex, who impresses with his mature lyrics and delightful melodies. This is deserving of both day and night time airplay. ”

— As featured in 'The Musician' Magazine (Journal of the Musicians' Union), Autumn 2016 - Reviewed By Keith Ames

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2016 Alex Meaney