Not quite a year ago, I had the chance to check out Alex Dezen (The Damnwells) perform a solo, happy hour set at Schuba’s in Chicago while I was there on a business trip. A great coincidence as Alex is, in my opinion, the Dylan of our generation and an artist that I try to see anytime I’m in the same city he is.

After the show, Alex told me he had just completed his second solo album and said he’d send me a link to stream it. Hours later, as I sat in my hotel room, an email with a link hit my in-box. As a fan of The Damnwells since basically their origin, I have some idea what to expect with the music Alex writes but I was not prepared to the new material. I fired off a response as I finished out my first listen. “Whoa, Alex. You know I LOVE everything you do but after just one listen, I’m thinking this might be some of my favorite songs I’ve ever heard you do. I detect an ’80s vibe to some of the songs and you know I love the ’80s.”

The album, that I’ve been listening to since last May, finally was released to the masses a few weeks ago and the reception from fans and critics alike has been overwhelmingly positive. And even though this album featured a full backing band, I was expecting tour dates to be Alex standing on a stage with an acoustic (as he’s done the last 3 or 4 times I’ve seen him). To my surprise, the current tour features a full compliment of musicians playing not only music from Alex’s two solo albums but also some Damnwells cuts.

Not sure if any of Columbus Calling’s readers have checked out Thirty One West in Newark, but that’s where Alex will be playing on Saturday night along with his touring partner Mike Dunn and Melodime, an Americana-inspired band from Virginia. Tickets for the show are $15 at the door.