The fifth and final single to emerge from Rob Alexander’s album Long Road Coming Home is a powerful and rather heartbreaking ode to the late George Michael.
Leading with a simple wash of strings and a spacious, piano-led purity, Rob’s raspy and soulful vocal drives through the quiet melancholy with a poetic and intimate look at life and passing away; everything we leave behind, everything the inevitable changes.
The opening verse seems fairly vague, accessible from a pop writing perspective. Soon enough though, as the music drops in to become more intense, the passion rises, and the true details of the story begin to more specifically address the life that George lived.
There’s a likable familiarity to the structure of the song, it’s the kind of set-up that feels beautifully well inspired by the likes of George Michael’s music itself. Subtle intricacies like the fall away to the guitar solo, and the rise up to the more powerful key, all help build a mighty rock ballad around the listener. In addition, Rob’s melodic development offers a mildly theatrical progression, one that feels genuinely new right now, and his lyrics work in a similar fashion.
There’s a striking contrast of emotions between references to yearning to be the centre of attention and those to life and love and praying. There’s a lot at work between the lines, and this makes it appealing to listen more than once or twice – a process that ultimately lets the melody sink in for the long term.
At its core, the very concept of When I’m Gone inspires a comforting aura – the idea of a voice from the past offering some kind of calm and a reminder that things can and should carry on.
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