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coming September 21 2018





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This album is dedicated to my 2003 Oldsmobile Alero, my love, my mom, and my brothers and sisters that took me in at UMBC. I love you all...

Mixed by Lawrence Matthews

Mastered by Mike Bozzi of Bernie Grundman Mastering

Available via Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal.

2017 Stonington Drive Records


Words on Alero by Victor Sawyer

The music of Don Lifted’s Alero is a sonic manifestation of the physical, mental, and emotional anguish of one man’s troubled journey through post high-school life. The textures that make up the foundation of Alero’s soundscape are minimal and repetitive. They wash over the listener like a fog and leave space for the dense lyrical content. From the shattered promise of a new beginning to the feeling of betrayal as longstanding bonds begin to fray; Alero is an emotional rollercoaster that captivates from beginning to end.

The lyrical story of Alero is an abstract chronicle of love lost and loss of self in the DMV (DC, Maryland Virginia) area during the inherently tumultuous college years. After repeated listens I was drawn into its tragic story. The drone like beats became the perfect backdrop for the torture that comes with the mundane.

On the opening track, “All I Want” the lyrics paint our hero as distinctly out of place in his new environment, losing money rapidly, and wanting to, “kill his manager”. We quickly find that Memphis never quite felt like home as well him being, “born in the system of 3-6, Elvis, and Jordan’s”. Both of these sentiments are echoed on “7000 Arundel Mills Circle”. Easily the most braggadocios track of Alero it recalls the anger and displacement of track one and cranks it up to pure rage. Track 6, with its external facing lyrical content, was a welcome departure from the introspection of Alero. Don Lifted is a gifted MC and it’s nice to hear him brag about it even for a little bit.

Throughout the album, particularly during the hooks I found myself wondering what the artist longed for most. A true connection with his new home, the lover he moved there with, or his increasingly vacant self. Track one is a great setup to the themes of yearning, loss, and disillusionment that populate the rest of the album.

“Wherever You Are” maybe the second track of Alero but it frames the beginning of a poetic journey. I too was joining the artist on yet another long contemplative drive in his title featured Alero, asking the same questions over and over again yet never coming to any satisfying set of answers. The beats wash over the listener incessantly yet never harshly, as to not overshadow the aggressive lyricism of Don Lifted’s voice. His words flow freely, revealing a man seeking to move forward, burdened with a coupled past and newfound insecurities in his increasingly dire present. The first verse functions as a declaration of intent and everything Don Lifted could be, should be, and hopefully will be.

The hook that follows is simultaneously an invitation to his haters to come see his coming glory and to his inner self to, “come out and see it through”. The second verse reminds us of the other plot of Alero. One of love lost. A story of a loss of self for the sake of that love and the difficult task of moving on. It is the tragedy of longing for a past that is no more and the catharsis that comes from expressing the pain of it through one’s art. Once again, Don Lifted’s choice of dreamy production backdrops gives gravitas to his impassioned vocals.

“Take Control of Me” looks at what happens when swagger can’t stand up to internal demons and the temptations of the world the allure of easy enlightenments, whether bottles or love, peppers the track. These temptations become more enticing as inevitable self-doubt creeps into the path of the artist. Track three shows our protagonist with nowhere to run pouring himself into another human being in the most emotionally raw track of Alero.

Next Time” another standout track on the nine track album features the haunting vocals of Laurel combined with a sparse piano accompaniment, elevating the desperation found in Don Lifted’s lyrics. Don Lifted’s way has been lost. His only guiding light is a complicated love in an unwelcoming city. The emotionally honesty of this track made it one of my favorites.

Track seven, “Harbor Hall” stands out for its morbidity as Don Lifted continue to war with himself. Life has not treated the protagonist well and we are seeing him grapple with it. Although there is confidence and pride in his ability, he acknowledges his artistic skill yet laments its inability to provide a stable, happy life. Predictably he clings to his complicated love as a stabilizing force in the simple hook. Gone is the grandstanding of previous tracks. In its place is a statement. “I do not want you to leave me.” It’s as if a breakup would be the final blow to a fragile life.

Don Lifted’s opening line in “Holding On”¨ the closing track of Alero is a great summary of the overall tone of the entire album. “I am overly passionate, I can not lie about it.” I love this track for its production, hook, and optimistic message of holding on to your goals and dreams, even when the reasons for pressing forward are unclear. It celebrates the passion of life and the difficult journey it can become.

Ultimately Alero is a work of transformation. It acknowledges the pain, beauty, and revelations that come from the transitions of life, planned and unexpected. It celebrates allowing fate to shape you for better or worse. I highly recommend it and implore you to reflect on your own journey as you listen.

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