Here, ladies and gentleman, is a true artist. I first heard Matt Alber in 2012 in the video below (The End of the World), which has since gone viral, gob-smacking gay and straight listeners with his soul-wrenching lyrics, gorgeous music, and grainily beautiful baritone. That Mr. Alber is classically trained, and sang with Chanticleer as a countertenor (search for him at Youtube and you'll find him singing Messiah with the best of them) before finding his own voice, speaks for itself.
This past week, Mr. Alber was at Lincoln Center, and sang in a concert which was streamed live, which I heard a few blocks away in the comfort of my living room. The review in the Times says it well: "Mr. Alber sang a program of striking, mostly original ballads with a controlled fervor, occasionally stretching his baritone into a pure, relaxed countertenor. This was exquisite pop-rock singing anchored in classical discipline." And so it was, which refutes the notion that popular singing has little to do with classical training. To those with ears to hear, Mr. Alber's vocal production has a lot in common with that of Lanny Ross in my former post, both singing with what the Old School would call "forward production," or "voice placement." That Mr. Alber sings with more nasality than Mr. Ross? Well, that's how Americans sound when singing in English in a popular idiom. It's right for the style. That he opens up and sings a big beautiful /a/ in his upper range reveals a great ear.
I admire Mr. Alber's singing and art a great deal, and not just because we belong to the same tribe. He does what too few artists do today, which is sing from the heart.
Find a studio version of The End of the World at Matt Abler's website here.