You know the feeling of slipping into your favorite leather jacket? The one that is worn a bit with some loose fringes and cracks, but it is still supple that it just fits the best? And even though it may be an odd color, that jacket just goes with everything? Well, good music should be just like that jacket, and the artist creating such music is like that designer who fashioned that leather jacket in the first place – so skilled to sew in all of the detail, so willful to push the bar, and so passionate enough to put their heart and soul into each collection whilst redefining art. Dallas Cosmas is such an artist.
Cosmas is an Australian-based singer, songwriter, musician, and producer who constantly pushes the envelope in Indie Music while composing songs that are contemplative and inexplicably rare; thus, he broadens the minds of his listeners as well as the scope of his musical range. Alpha Beta Gamma is the recent studio album by Cosmas.
Released on October 11, 2019, Alpha Beta Gamma illustrates the human condition with its complex integers.
There are 12 songs that purely supports the album’s theme of life’s altering continuum:
- If You Don’t Know Where You Came From
- I’ve Been Losing Sleep (Feat. Evan Englezos)
- Uno Owé Kombèh
- The Middle of The Ocean (Feat. Matthew Shadwick)
- Step Outside (Feat. Paul Richards)
- We Left A Light on For You (Feat. Wally Hite Rankin)
- Alpha Beta Gamma
- Where I May Roam (Feat. Jeremiah Englezos)
- Hand in Hand (Feat. Alpha Beta Singers)
- The Love We Lost (Feat. Yarra Gospel Quartet)
- How I Tried
- C’est La Vie
This is my interpretation of the eight highlights.
A mellow track entitled “If You Don’t Know Where You Came From” opens the album. The narrative of the song alludes to self-identity and exploration. The lyrics sing: make your own name / rise your head above the wall / there’s truth to what they say / to make yourself and you stand tall. This sought-after knowledge of self enables one to explore life with freedom because there are no chains of insecurity pinning the soul down. This helps a person to achieve open-mindedness and the strength and integrity to stand in their own TRUTH while conquering the “tides” of life and “face the battles on winds that rage.” The soulful backing vocals and 2-part harmony notes combined with the organ brings a fascinating vibe to the track – almost like a first and second thought process. In addition, “If You Don’t’ Know Where You Came From” features a wah-wah guitar, funky bassline, and a modulating bridge. Cosmas practically states the defining lyrics at the end of the track when he sings this line, “if you don’t know where you came from; you don’t know where you’re going to” (see official video).
The second track “Uno Owé Kombèh” starts with a nice bass that sets the rhythm of the entire track. Again, we have the full choral which sounds like a culture of voices. At first listen to this track, I immediately thought that the song was about how humans are always in search for the mundane answers of life just by the lyrics alone – they sing: Leaving a message at early morn / Looking for sleep in the northeast of town / Chasing around for the answer / Can you say what’s true / All over the titles reporting in reach for the far side of the slipstream / Chasing around for the answer / Can you say what’s true . . . The feeling / The healing / Stretched ‘cross the celestial ceiling / The feeling / The healing / Uno Owé Kombèh. And yes, that is an aspect of the song’s overall theme. But what begins to stitch the track’s narrative is the title of the track. When I placed the title into my hand-translator, it translated to: you got one destiny. And then I asked the writer himself, Cosmas, and he said that it suggests “whatever is beyond this life. To me, it's saying At One with the Eternal.” So when I contemplated the lyrics, the title (with my interpretation) and finally Cosmas’ notes, I realized that this song has such a universal healing aspect to it as it pretty much encompasses many interpretations that all lead to one thing – life is mysterious – the beginning of life, the end of life, and what’s next. Moreover, what makes life so worth pondering, and what keeps humans in expectation of the next step, is the circle of life that keeps us all tied to each other, and this makes life worth living, worth questioning, and worth sharing. Cosmas’ vocals, per usual, just melds wonderfully to the instrumental tapestry and clearly keeps a placid tone which evokes a meditative listening experience. And, choosing keyboards and cymbals as the highpoint instruments complements the surreal feel of the musical atmosphere of this percussion-heavy track.
And with the opening lyrics of “she comes in dreams / was this meant to be / tomorrow these reflections / rearrange my direction / meet me in the middle of the ocean,” “The Middle of The Ocean” already sets the listener up for a track that explores the interchangeable nature between two souls – two souls that are so different yet becoming one with emotional similarities. Cosmas' vocal tone is reminiscent of 1980’s Soft Rock leads with its slight treble and appealing quintessential pace. Moreover, the instrumentation of “The Middle of the Ocean,” for example: cymbals, bass, piano, and Matthew Shadwick’s skilled guitar melody lines, all makes for a memorable ballad. In addition, like the middle of the ocean, the choice to apply a downward modulation to the song’s core melody illustrates that deepest point factor that the middle of the ocean truly has. Songwriting wise, this is a skilled tool as it highlights the theme of the song, because adoration and desire starts shallow and goes so deep – it is wild in nature and tranquil at the same time. This song is one of the most beautiful melodically and just stays with you all day.
The most personal narratively of the album is “We Left A Light on For You.” The storyline of the sixth track is about following a departing one’s life after they are gone, and how this is done by intricately following their fingerprints and footprints left in the form of books read, notes written, and places traveled and documented, thus seeing life through their eyes and gaining an understanding of the why’s and how’s that made them who they were. The honest lyrics sing: Johnny / I picked up the books that you read, the passages lead me to see the world that you see / Johnny / I found these notes that you wrote about the future / And a fairer world yet to know / Johnny / No need to worry no more / What kept you up until dawn Pacing about this troubled world / Now it’s getting late / And now you must go / But we left a light on for you. Featuring Wally Hite Rankin on guitar, that electric guitar solo that creeps in at the 56 seconds mark is rectifying. The building chord modulation layered into the song, along with that soulful Southern harmony, easily makes this song become the P.S. at the end of an endearing letter left for one to find.
With “Alpha Beta Gamma,” we get to hear what the title and lyrics suggests: the chemistry between two lovers. We get to hear this message by using our receptive ears and acceptive souls. The song starts with only vocal scales and in comes jazz instrumentation. The lyrics sing: Who unravels / Atlantique beauty / She sings to me / Who untangles / Telescopic history / Oh the mystery / Every letter alpha and beta . . . Indian Pacific dreaming / Sings to me / Who unscrambles / Oscilating frequencies / These little mysteries / Every letter alpha and beta / Read on from gamma to omega / Sings to me / Every letter alpha and beta / Read on from gamma to omega / Indian Pacific dreaming / She sings to me / Sandpipers and peregrines / Sing to me. This modern love song features an electric guitar and has a steady beat much provided by drummer/percussionist Paul Richards. The lyrics are descriptive and rhythmic with its timing: for example, the lines “Oscillating frequencies / these little mysteries” symbolize revolving chemistries of love; the line “every letter alpha and beta read on from gamma to omega / sings to me,” illustrates the celestial connection with human love; then the line “sandpipers and peregrines sing to me,” shows love on swift wings. The title track is intended to broaden our minds to perceive the dense transitions in life – this is what makes Cosmas such a beacon in indie music.
By the time the album gets to the middle, the tone and subject matter gets a bit darker with elements of sadness and loss looming in the lyrics – it is not a horrific change to the subject matter, and it does not harm the overall tone of the collection, but it does show the realism and authenticity of Cosmas’ writing style – the honesty here is amazing. We hear this transition in “Hand in Hand” and “How I Tried.”
“Hand in Hand” features mainly guitars and percussions and it is breathtaking! It starts out beautifully with a subtle guitar and builds from there with the choir (featuring the Alpha Beta Singers) and Cosmas interchanging vocally making for a nice meditative appeal. The song is about parting ways with a loved one in death, or loss in another form. The metaphorical lyrics of “cross the invisible line,” “we lost and found time,” and “the promise that I made as I left the room,” perfectly defines the theme. It is here that the song changes gears and elevates some with the lead. And the perfect analogy for a cold time in life is spelled out in the line “before we parted a mid-winter’s afternoon” – splendid. The bass vocal saying “doo-doo” in the background adds girth. Love the harmony.
With the addition of a Fender Rhodes, “How I Tried” plays like a Neo-Soul fairytale. This ballad’s storyline is about that time standing still moment in life when a person must deal with a dramatic change and grapples with dealing with loss while reexamining their intentions and the reality of the moment. The harmony in chorus, blended with Cosmas’ second tenor vocal climbing with the female harmonic notes, creates a sense of urgency and redemption
The closing track “C’est La Vie” starts with a bass, acoustic, and soundscapes which captivates at first listen. Meaning “such is life,” this song holds the narrative about how a soul can become consumed by fleeting love. The poignant lyrics sing: I tracked your diamond dusted footsteps / I’m only now three steps behind / A diamond path follows the edge of darkness / Across the corner left to right . . . I found your stardust of wondering / Spilling over from page to page / Shadows hang long out on the edge of a lost dream / C’est la vie / Be what may / C’est la vie as the days pass over / C’est la vie as the river runs. The song, one of the most tranquil in the cannon, feature simple instrumentation that keeps the song crawling and not running which keeps you pinned to the speakers. The effect on Cosmas’ lead is quietly charming and longing. The album closes with a dynamic listen.
Cosmas is not only becoming a household name in the Indie Music community but also a legend within his genre. This is all due to his intricate writing of strong compositions that relate to many universally. Alpha Beta Gamma is a toned-down album that is void of the fluff and extra cosmetics that mainstream Neo-Soul often feature, and that is a breath of fresh air to a music journalist.
Cosmas accentuates his voice so well with conviction on this collection of music which in turn makes the threading theme come to life with emotion.
Rock guitar riffs blended with Soulful melodies makes for an amazing listen.
Directing your attention to the title of the album, Alpha Beta Gamma, this seals the deal of this collection of music being mysteriously amazing. When I was living with the music, I spoke to Cosmas and he told me how the concept of the album is how life is perpetual. So when the title is broken down, systematically, we see that alpha, beta, and gamma are forms of radiation with alpha and beta being in the form of particles and gamma in the form of rays. All are harmful to human health but with different considerations applying to each case. Still, when we think of these three forms of radiation, we see why Cosmas chose them for the title of his latest album even more so. Creatively, with the elements of each lyric binding to another to form a threading theme of the human condition with its complex integers of frailty, strength, depletion, and addition, this title fits perfectly because like the human spirit, each form of radiation is strong enough to penetrate some things but weak enough to be stopped in its tracks. For instance, alpha, very much like the emotion of love, is strong at the surface, even able to change form, but can instantly become depleted as a sheet of paper can stop alpha particles. So, in short, what Cosmas is illustrating with Alpha Beta Gamma is that with life, no matter the consequence, how we react to the peaks and valleys determines how we exist. Life is perpetual! Furthermore, how we shape our endgame depends on how we adapt, transition, or even stand firm to the interchangeable, transitioning, and adaptability, of life – very similar to alpha beta and gamma.
Gospel vocal and harmonic styling evokes that rapture and saving grace feeling and makes the listener know that “such is life,” and that all is perfect when a person understands that their honest best is the best thing in life.
Additional players in making this album such a great listening experience are the singers, musicians, engineers, mastering technician, photographer, and designer: Brigid Deneefe, Elan Leng, Martin Pullan, Jeff Titus, Luci Floyd, Evan Englezos, Brother To The Birds, Wayne Rintoul, Paul Richards, Matthew Shadwick, Wally Hite Rankin, Nathalie Cosmas, Jeremiah Englezos, and Sophia Cosmas.
With Alpha Beta Gamma, it’s like you’re listening to elements of life – the broken pieces, the solid pieces, and those that become oddly joined by the connection of human touch, memories, and experiences. It’s the past, present, and future in one take – it’s the alpha (α), beta (β), and gamma (γ).