Remember being a kid and laying on the grass, staring at the sky for hours? Watching the clouds and pretending the thin one was a giraffe, and the fat cloud was an elephant? Pop singer Ilja Alexander isn’t singing about clouds, but his imagination runs free in the meditative “Butterfly”. Keen on lyrics and cascading music rhythms, this song is a lovely journey.
The chorus do you know what I’ve been hiding from, do you know what’s on my mind, do you know what I’ve been hiding from, do you know what’s on my mind, is sung ever so unostentatious. Alexander’s modesty, his natural cadence is affectionate. He reminds me a great deal of Owl City’s Adam Young. That curiosity, that boyish imagination ponders the listener. I felt very in-tune with his words and his voice caressed me like chamomile tea. I also felt like this song could be in the same branch as “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To” by the iconic Diana Ross. I liked that he was having this conversation with the butterfly. I found it endearing and sentimental. It was his little secret friend, his way of opening up to the world.
As the song progresses, the electronic music bed searches for crevasses like water from a rainstorm. The song gallops along, with little reminders that plumes of every tint and color in the world can be found in Mother Nature. Alexander doesn’t overwhelm the listener in any sense. He envelopes them in his blanket – his color pallet is blues, purples, yellows and oranges. He takes the listener on his odyssey. His inner-most thoughts while watching the world pass him by, and brings the listener along in a backpack. We, too, feel the warm sun shining on us while we watch the dancing butterfly.
The percussion is tight, it’s not a quick rim shot or a jazz arrangement. It’s a drum machine that beats about every fourth measure. It gives the listener a chance to collect, at the same time, tap those toes in joy. The echoes linger, the song slides its way down, crushing any negative or optimistic layers. You feel good listening to “Butterfly” and you feel like you want to stay in that state-of-mind forever. I wanted to hear more of his voice, and be stuck in the dreamworld he’s sewn together. His illumination is contagious and I wanted to ride on that wonderful zephyr. I heard a slight hint of guitar, but I could be mistaken. I was so engulfed in Alexander’s voice, I became immune to just about any other distraction. By taking down the song’s energy a notch, Alexander creates a sunkissed moment.
Alexander, born in the Netherlands and based in London, England, has received airplay in several countries including Japan and Indonesia. Earlier this year, he released “Someday” from his album Nature. Alexander collaborated with Curtis Richardson (Jennifer Lopez, John Legend, David Guetta and more) Adien Lewis (Taemin, SHINee, Girls Generation and NCT Dream) on the project.