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.
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