January 17, 2020 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm CST
Adam Wakefield – January 17, 2020
Think “New Hampshire” and let the images flow. Cozy inns. Fireplaces. Vivid colors of fall. Crisp, clean air. Deep blue lakes. Searingly honest songs, laced now and then by irony or heartache or weighted by weary wisdom. Vocals that jolt these lyrics to life with a unique immediacy and intensity Wait a minute. You won’t find that last part in any travel brochure. But on his upcoming debut album for Average Joes, Gods and Ghosts, Adam Wakefield proves it’s not where you come from that counts. It’s where you’re going and how you get there — which, in his case, is on the wings of undeniable talent.
What makes Wakefield different? First, it’s his varied roots: Memphis soul, rock ’n’ roll, New Orleans funk, even jazz and classical, pre-bro country — pretty much all music that speaks from the heart. In terms of genre, he follows no rules, though one resolution does govern what Wakefield wants to achieve: If it doesn’t have a conscience, if it’s afraid of risk or candor, then he’s not interested.
You can feel this throughout Gods and Ghosts, scheduled to release in late summer 2018. On the down-home, blues-steeped “Breaking Strings,” he writes and sings with wry, hangdog humor: “I found the meaning of life but I got no one to tell … I’m down on my luck, or luck’s down on me. I’m looking over my shoulder but there’s nothing to see.”
A similar rumination unfolds over a classic country waltz time in “Cheap Whiskey & Bad Cocaine,” sung from the bottom of a glass or the end of a line: “I ain’t ever been on radio, barely got a dime to my name. Never walked down no red carpet, never had my 15 minutes of fame. But I know in my heart I could be a star. ’Til everyone else feels the same, I’ll be riding high as a Georgia pine on cheap whiskey and bad cocaine.” “Dry Days” continues the story, this time over a bubbling acoustic guitar hook. “Back to the powder when the milk runs out,” Wakefield begins as he faces another one of his “too tired to try days.”
But there’s light ahead, as Wakefield awakens with a strangely clear head on “Good Morning Sunday.” To a woozy slow beat, steadied by a little accordion and steel, he notices with a touch of wonder the unfamiliar warmth of sunshine on his face and the cheery chirp of birds. He wishes he could claim credit for the experience but admits that the night before “I just tripped over the dog and the bottle fell from my hand. Now it’s in pieces on the floor .. here I am!”
The title track speaks to his loved one over an intimate acoustic guitar. This is a song about secrets too painful for even this most candid of songwriters to reveal — although in admitting to this, he reveals more than most of his peers dare to do. And on “Prairie Lullaby,” he sings for anyone whose mistakes have left them far from the ones who most matter: “I drive all night just to bring her home. We’d pick up where we left off long ago,” he imagines.
But then, “I wake up … and put myself to sleep.”