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Peter Bradley Adams

GATHER UP • Peter Bradley Adams

In 2003, Eastmountainsouth made a splash on the AAA circuit with their unique brand of modern roots music. Radio programmers, as well dozens of movie and TV music directors, warmly embraced the vocal blend and harmonies issued by Peter Bradley Adams and Kat Maslich. Fans of that band will find that Adams' debut doesn't stray too far afield from the Eastmountainsouth sound, but might find that it improves upon it.

Though the focus is clearly on Adams' voice, he enlists a variety of terrific female singers (Susie Suh, Brandi Emma, Sara Bareilles, Liz Constantine, Renee Stahl, and Carla Werner) to add harmonies and vocal excursions of their own. The moody atmospherics of his former band are present, expanded into lush, but never busy, orchestrations. Adams has a Masters in music but his "edjimication" (as Dr. John might say) never gets in the way of the almost rural purity of the music--think Gillian Welch produced by Daniel Lanois.

Adams' Alabama upbringing has clearly instilled a sense of simple honesty that makes great Americana so attractive. The pop harmonies and arrangements on "Unreconciled" and "Teresa," do not diminish the essential back-porch folksy quality that--as they say in the 'hood--keeps them real. Despite the spoken Langston Hughes poetry, sound design, and electronica of the title tune, it remains at heart a timeless folk tune, albeit in a Pink Floyd sort of way.

The single, "One Foot Down," manages to be bouncy and dark simultaneously, and this is only one of the difficult tricks that Peter Bradley Adams pulls off on Gather Up. He offers a continuity of sound and mood, while providing variety; he orchestrates the music without overpowering it: and best of all he writes great tunes that honor the past while looking to the future. Adams' understated, but soulful vocals allow him to write beautiful melodies, without ever sounding cloying. When I say that his romantic tune about watching a loved one sleep, "One Picture," is like an alt version of a Don Henley waltz, it is meant as the highest compliment.

Peter Bradley Adams (cover image)

Full disclosure: I just got off a mini-tour, playing guitar for Adams. It only made me appreciate the depth of the music more. Stripped of the production (it was just the two of us), the songs resonated even more strongly, with a combination of sophistication and simplicity that may only be possible from the pen of a Southern boy with a college "edjimication."
• Michael Ross

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