There isn’t a lot of daylight between Ranzel X. Kendrick and his alter-ego Alias Wayne. The same vivid musical DNA exerts its influence over the final result; the Texas-born Kendrick has traditional American music pumping through his blood courtesy of his uncle country music legend Roger Miller, among others. Ranzel’s Alias Wayne, however, owes much more debt to blues influences on the new single “Ms Mystery” than any lingering connections to a big widescreen Nashville sound.
Kendrick’s singing for “Ms Mystery” sounds like he’s gotten a strong whiff of a coming apocalypse and he’s here to warn whoever will listen. The lyrics are largely impressionistic and are rife with ideas more than outright messages, Kendrick has a touch of the poet in him, but he nevertheless conveys the words with such emotive urgency that it nullifies any obscurities. He’s joined by soulful and more than capable backing vocal accompaniment whose contributions make “Ms Mystery” an even more satisfying auditory journey.
Wayne steeps the single in the mood and sounds of the Deep South. “Ms Mystery” doesn’t labor under overwrought production and the cool, relaxed movement of the song keeps things from ever becoming too bogged down with ornamental touches. The blues, particularly its Texas-specific version, comes through in the song’s guitar work. It’s fluid, bursting with melody, and snakes its way through the listener’s consciousness with impressive ease.
“Ms Mystery” likewise owes debts to the singer/songwriter school. There’s another retro vibe that the song capitalizes on, late 70’s West Coast songwriting ala Neil Young or similar artists, sans the nasal vocal inflections and without any rock electric guitar histrionics. It doesn’t maintain quite the same outsized presence as the blues does during this piece, but it’s a meaningful portion of the single’s musical pedigree.
Wayne’s vocals are on point throughout. He finds and follows an effective balance between singing and instrumentation; this is essential for a song running a little longer than four and a half minutes. There are no extended instrumental showcases scattered throughout the song. Wayne, instead, keeps the focus on delivering a solid composition that invokes mood and message with memorable melodic flair.
It’s never overstated, however. Ranzel X. Kendrick, working as Alias Wayne, has long since established a level of artistry that doesn’t betray the same hesitations or missteps that might plague less seasoned composers and performers. “Ms Mystery” is illustrative of a musical artist who has long since elevated his craft to the point where it’s able to ensnare a large audience’s attention. Kendrick’s work as Alias Wayne isn’t playing for a limited niche crowd. There’s plenty of all-around appeal with “Ms Mystery” that it should find favor from multiple quarters.