You won’t hear Dean Alexander singing a lot about dirt roads. “I grew up on a farm, but I rarely ever write about it,” he says. “I rode a horse and drove trucks, but I rarely ever write about that, either. I’ll drink beer on a tailgate just as fast as anybody else, but I can’t pull that off like other guys do so brilliantly.” Still, while Alexander’s songs might not get literal about his roots, you can bet they tell his story. And for this Midwestern native, that story starts with music.
Music was a window to the world for Alexander, who spent his early childhood in Tuppers Plains, Ohio, an unincorporated town on the West Virginia border that had a population of “a little over five people, I think – a gas station, one stoplight, a school, one tiny bank, and that was it.” The soulful crooner cites influences like Dwight Yoakam, whose This Time Alexander “freaked out over” as a 10 year old; Chris Isaak and the California country sound; surf music like the Ventures. Inspired as well by the mainstream country artists of his childhood, Alexander learned to comfort and express himself with a guitar in his hands, facing down challenges with a song in his heart. “Music is a healing thing for me,” he explains. “It’s a fire I’ve always had, when I had nothing else. It’s like some people take a pill to fix this, or drink this to cure that. Music is that medicine for me.”
Music was the driving force that would soon pull Alexander to Nashville, where he moved in 2006 with nothing, not knowing anyone. “Ever since I was young, I’ve always been instilled with a bit of faith,” Alexander says. “I’m a massive believer in dreams, and how you make them come true. When I pulled into town, I had literally a hundred dollars and that was it. It was just all blind faith, man.”
Alexander spent his early days in Music City playing the clubs on Lower Broadway, sleeping in his car, working odd jobs. “I was landscaping for Barbara Orbison, and I was working in her garden when she walked out and asked what I was here for,” he remembers. “I knew exactly what she meant, so I went to my car right then and handed her a CD, and she gave me my first publishing deal two weeks after that.” A year later, he started to get work as a touring guitarist when he signed with a new publisher, Stage Three, who put a bug in the ear of award-winning producer Scott Hendricks – and put the wheels in motion towards a recording contract.
And now, music is his life: He’s in the studio working on a debut full-length for Elektra Nashville. And Alexander still can’t quite believe his luck. “For somebody to move to Nashville off a hunch and just some crazy voice in your head, it all worked out well, you know?” he laughs. “Crazy.”
Or maybe, as you’re bound to conclude once you hear Alexander’s heartfelt, comforting, and deeply faithful country sound, just inevitable.