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Peter Bradley Adams
Leavetaking
Sarathan Records
www.peterbradleyadams.com


There is an extremely beautiful melancholy in the music of Peter Bradley Adams. He began that beauty when he released the Eastmountainsouth record way back in 2003, and continued it on his debut solo release Gather Up. But on his latest record, Leavetaking, Adams strips the music down even further, dispensing with anything but the slightest instrumentation and the most melancholy and beautiful of lyrics.

The lead track "The Longer I Run" is simple and beautiful, set to softly picked acoustic guitars and slight, rolling drums. This song is a perfect set-up for the record's new kind of folk music, soft and gentle, yet personal and extremely powerful. The droning, atmospheric guitars and soft piano beauty of "Los Angeles" hint at the grace of great gospel music in their tone and reverence; a wonderfully sad canvas filled with wonderfully brilliant lyrics. The most upbeat track on the record is the soft holler of "I'll Forget You", and the song is the one spot of real drumming noticeable among the collection as well. It is a brilliant track, with rolling banjos and a very definite drive that demands attention. While the drums and drive seem an anomaly among these songs, they are rarely missed among such low treasures as "Under My Skin" and the incredible, sparse remake of Adams' own "So Are You To Me." Even though the voice of Eastmountainsouth collaborator Kat Maslich is momentarily missed, the honest and bare truth that exposes itself in this simplified version is a rare and amazing thing, leaving another stupendous version of an already classic modern folk song. "Ohio", with its weirdly effected guitars and brilliant production is definitely a highlight of the album, demonstrating with true beauty how Adams is willing to modify his sound within his own framework to create a musical genius and disparity that enhances the song, never detracts. This song is epic in its slight dynamism, growing from a low rumble to a low but powerful chorus filled with distinctive instrumentation and lovely harmony vocals, almost recalling the less-developed passion of Eastmountainsouth.

The songs on Adams' newest album Leavetaking are rooted deeply in folk tradition, but have a really low sound that breaks from the old school. The songs are reverential and honest, thick with emotion and stories of life, creating an almost alternative gospel music. Peter Bradley Adams has taken what little rock there was in his music and buried it deep under the beautiful blanket of sound for which he has become well known, one that is sure to be called the "low, lonesome sound." After the grace of Gather Up, I had high expectations from Adams' next release; but he has gone far beyond what I had hoped for, and I simply can't say enough about the greatness of this record.

-Embo Blake

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