Peter Bradley Adams

Gather Up

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Peter Bradley Adams formerly was one-half of the chamber Americana duo Eastmountainsouth. On his own, the Los Angeles-based Adams scales back some of the "mountain" and "south" in his music for a more modern singer/songwriter approach. Although the disc was recorded almost entirely in his apartment, Adams crafts a wonderfully lush sound -- rich with keyboards and guitars, dark sonic touches and heavenly background voices -- that suggests an expensive studio production. "Unreconciled," a gorgeous song about disintegrating relationship, projects the Jayhawks' autumnal pop glow. Another standout number also dealing with loss, "One Foot Down" builds effortlessly to a lovely chorus. The smart use of pedal steel and electric violin serves to create a feeling of uncertainty in this dark-hued "Upside Down." The Alabama-born Adams reveals some of this country roots later in the record with the melancholic, mandolin-dappled "He Sang" and "Queen of Hearts." The latter tune benefits from Southern California super sessionman Greg Leisz (who has played with everyone from Joni Mitchell to Smashing Pumpkins), who plays on a Weisenborn guitar. Adams also earns some points for thinking outside of the traditional singer/songwriter formula. "Chant" lives up to its name as it evolves into an Indian-style chant, where worldbeat rhythms coexist with fiddle and guitar drones. On the title track, Adams utilizes spoken word excerpts from the poetry of the great Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes set against the rich, occasionally dissonant aural soundscape. But the noisy moments in "Gather Up" are rather atypical for this album. In fact, if there's a main flaw to this otherwise interesting, inviting disc, it is its quiet sound. It's as if Adams didn't want to disturb his neighbors in his apartment building. He tends to sing in a hushed voice and his music generally is gentle on the ears. While the subdued tone fits the introspective lyrics, it does make for a rather low-key, tranquil listening experience.

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