Alias Wayne’s “Ms Mystery”

Alias Wayne’s “Ms Mystery” is one part throwback and one part musical missive for our times. It isn’t a high-performance glossy pop anthem, you should be looking elsewhere for that, but instead a southern-fried guitar-driven interpretation of the blues that doesn’t exhaust listeners with predictable cliches but, instead, breathes new life into a venerable form. Wayne further adorns the song with a lyrical message alit with flashes of genuine poetry but is still determined to speak to listeners in a recognizable fashion. You won’t hear Wayne hiding the ball. Meaning is abundant for whoever proves attentive enough to hear it.

It is a song that demands your attention. Its demands, however, aren’t connected to a single boisterous moment or any sort of gimmick. Wayne compels listeners’ attention through the sheer musical purity of his voice, the complementary contributions of the song’s backing vocals, and the intimate relationship established between his voice and the instrumentation. “Ms Mystery” is a seamless experience. You won’t hear any lulls or wayward passages.

The musicianship is every bit as superb as the singing. The guitar work, in particular, doesn’t put a finger wrong as it elicits one bewitching run after another from the fretboard. I’m quite impressed with the near-immediate mood that Wayne creates with just the music alone; the entrance of the vocals puts a crowning touch on what is already shaping up to be an excellent musical track.

The aforementioned flashes of poetry present in the lyrics are nonetheless familiar. In particular, longtime lovers of this sort of style will recognize Wayne’s references and soon suss out the direction his songwriting follows. Wayne, however, deserves kudos for reframing familiar ideas with idiosyncratic turns of language and it gives “Ms Mystery” a fresh veneer that it might have otherwise lacked.

He likewise deserves praise for never allowing the song to tire listeners out. A little in excess of four and a half minutes feels and sounds like an ideal duration for “Ms Mystery” that allows Wayne to stretch his lyrical and vocal wings alike while the music operates on a canvas befitting its abilities. Wayne eschews any needless musical tinsel like extended lead breaks or other such devices preferring, instead, to keep the song humming on a single track. Self-indulgence is absent from this single.

It’s an excellent introduction to Alias Wayne’s material for newcomers and a reaffirmation of what Wayne’s existing fans already know. Ranzel X. Kendrick has worked before under this moniker, and it has a freeing effect on an already wide-open singer/songwriter. Inspiration is audible during every second of this tune and it lingers in your head long after you’ve finished listening to it even once. You must judge this single a success by any measure of evaluation.

He’ll be back for more. I have no question about that. Alias Wayne, Ranzel X. Kendrick, it doesn’t matter, this is an artist with a deeply felt agenda and it’s far from fulfilled. “Ms Mystery”, however, is an entry in that growing discography that you won’t soon forget.

Clay Burton