On “Seven Years,” Alexa Ray Joel’s new pop single, she celebrates the many highs and occasional lows that come from her long-term relationship.
Inspired by her fiance Ryan Gleason, the lush piano ballad, premiering below, is filled with sweet slices of life drawn from the couple’s true story. The rich, detailed lyrics play out over the building melody that sounds straight out of a Broadway musical. The similarity is not a coincidence, says the native New Yorker.
“Musical theater is my earliest true love since childhood. I was introduced to it from a very young age, as my parents have always been huge fans of Broadway,” she says of her dad, Billy Joel, and mom, Christie Brinkley. “I think their affection for theater was only further cemented by the fact that for their very first date they went to see Little Shop Of Horrors on Broadway. I was lucky enough to see both the American and British productions of Les Misérables when I was five years old. I grew up with Carousel, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and all the classics. It was just an everyday thing.”
The family even put on musicals at home. “My mother would dress me up as Liesl Von Trapp from The Sound Of Music or some other theatrical favorite and she’d film me singing, in character, while my father accompanied me on piano,” says Joel, who has been performing her cabaret show at Manhattan’s renowned Cafe Carlyle since 2014 and, pre-pandemic, would often join her dad during his monthly Madison Square Garden concerts.
“My dad has always been a purist as a musician: he appreciates timeless melodies and great storytelling, more than anything. That’s what theater is all about; and he passed that down to me.”
Understandably, Gleason was touched when he heard the song in one of its earliest incarnations. “I remember we were standing in the kitchen together,” Joel recalls. “So when I sang the lyrics ‘In the kitchen, we’re slow dancing / rest my head upon his shoulder / we pretend we’re still romancing / even though we’re getting older,’ his eyes started to well up,” Joel says.
“So he started crying and then I started tearing up, of course…We always slow-dance together in the kitchen; it’s like a little tradition for us. ‘Seven Years’ is essentially a love letter to him and New York City, which is where we met.”
While “Seven Years” is a one-off for now, Joel says an album is coming. “I’ve got a ton of material in the works,” she says. “I’d like nothing more than to go back to the recording studio — my ‘home away from home.’”
After seven years together and engaged for the last three, Joel jokes, “What’s the rush?,” when asked if she and Gleason have picked a wedding date, before seriously adding, “We want to wait until we are all completely out of the woods with this pandemic, and we’re both still loving being engaged. Maybe it sounds silly, but I think being engaged helps to keep things enticing and romantic.”
She has, however, at least contemplated a season. “I’d love to have a beautiful fall wedding in New York City,” she says, “but you can’t put a strict timeline on love.”
Listen to “Seven Years” below.