by Jane Roser
No Depression Magazine calls Peter Bradley Adams “…one of the most consistently eloquent and pleasing singer/songwriters on the scene. Indeed, his brand of musical melancholy is so specific and evocative that, sometimes, listening through his catalog is the only way to survive a moment or a day.”
Beautifully haunting and sometimes painfully honest, songs like “Hey Believers” off his current album, The Mighty Storm, make you pay attention to the lyrics and hit repeat at least once. Singing harmonies with Molly Parden, Adams says of this song, “I recorded it twice, the first time with Caitlin Canty. As a songwriter, I’m not just writing about my own life, like a journal entry, I’m a storyteller, too. John Prine may start out a song with a lyric such as “I am an old woman” when obviously he’s not a woman and he wasn’t old when he wrote it, it’s just a character. I was really interested in the idea of someone who is surrounded by all of these believers and people who claim to be so grounded in their faith. The narrator is not condemning them, but just saying he doesn’t get it.”
Originally from Alabama and now based in Nashville, by way of Brooklyn, Adams grew up in a musical family and started playing piano at a young age. His parents took him to bluegrass festivals in North Alabama when he was young and Adams recalls finding The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album in his dad’s record collection and playing it non-stop on an old Playskool record player.
“My grandfather was a professional musician until he started a family. When I came around, he was doing it as a hobby, but still passionate about it. All six kids in his family were musicians and I remember there was a Hammond organ and an upright bass in the dining room. It definitely helped feed the flames a bit.”
Adams worked scoring films for awhile, then in 1999 he formed the group Eastmountainsouth with Kat Maslich-Boe, releasing their first album in 2003 with Dreamworks Records after being discovered by Robbie Robertson of The Band. Several tracks off the album appeared in TV shows including One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek and Alias, as well as the films Elizabethtown and Lucky 7. The band dissolved in 2004 and Adams launched his solo career releasing several full-length albums, as well as collaborating with Caitlin Canty on a side project called Down Like Silver, releasing an eponymous six song EP.
The Mighty Storm was recorded in Nashville at the historic RCA Studio A (it was originally built in 1964 by Chet Atkins) with most tracks recorded live. “We were all spread out in the same room. The main recording room in that studio is huge, long and wide like a basketball court with high ceilings.” The album itself was released through Adams’ own record label I Me Mine Records, which he says “makes so much more sense to own my masters and then deal with a distributor.”
Along with writing, touring and possibly another film score on the horizon, Adams may release an EP and some singles this year. When I asked about how his time living in New York, Adams says, “I really miss New York; you definitely feel the world a lot more there than in Nashville and I like that. I was writing a lot of rootsy music in an urban setting and something about New York allowed me to dig a bit deeper to figure out my voice as a writer. I’m much more collaborative down here, though. There’s a lot more people that are in my genre here, which can be good and bad.”
Adams recently wrapped up a 10 city tour of China and heads off to the U.K. for the first time this summer, but his recent string of tours has been really amazing. “They were all different venues and different size crowds, everywhere from fifty people in a smoky bar to almost a thousand people in a bigger concert venue and then everything in between.” Philly has been especially good to him, with WXPN being an early supporter of Eastmountainsouth and Adams is eagerly looking forward to his show at World Cafe Live tomorrow. Hopefully the rain will hold off so we can have a bright, starry evening to enjoy some gloriously lovely melancholy and eloquent music.