No matter the form, when it comes to art, there are a number of different tacks to take. Some artists continually push their work across new horizons. Others stand a bit more still in order to continually refine the capturing of their vision. Singer/songwriter Peter Bradley Adams falls into the latter category of perfectionists chasing their own perfection. With A Face Like Mine, he may well have caught it.
There’s a confidence, a completeness in the song cycle that listeners have gleaned throughout Adams’ illustrious career, but A Face Like Mine, his sixth solo effort, brings it all into sharp focus. Adams’ brand of Americana nestles his often delicate, always heartfelt voice in the warm embrace of gentle guitar, tasteful dobro, subtle banjo, supportive bass, and unhurried percussion. The result is a sonic scape that, in turn, wraps itself around the listener like a soft blanket on a cold day. With A Face Like Mine, Adams further refines the simple musical sophistication that has become his trademark.
Throughout the self-produced set, Adams tells tales of love and loss, homes and hearts. The territory he mines is a deliberate mix of fact and fantasy. “I feel like I’m, firstly, a storyteller,” he offers, “but it’s inevitable that my own stuff gets in there deep. And it’s funny how, sometimes, I don’t realize it until the song is done.”
Regardless of the details, there’s always a philosophical bent that is often more under than on the surface, firmly grounding Adams’ songs even as they stretch outward. By his own admission, Adams is a seeker who spends considerable time wrestling with matters of faith, though he’s the first to admit he doesn’t have any real answers. “I honestly don’t know what the hell I’m doing… nor do I have the language for any of this stuff,” he says with a laugh.
That seeker’s heart is the tie that so often binds these songs together. Whether the search for place and purpose is of a spiritual or geographical nature, few writers capture the journey as thoughtfully as Adams. An Alabama native, Adams says he feels most comfortable in motion and doesn’t have a strong sense of being Southern, even though his music is rooted in that world in so many ways. And though he sets various scenes with his lyrical imagery, Adams always leaves room for the listener to crawl inside his stories and make them their own.
A Face Like Mine‘s songs were composed all over the world, from Alabama to India, and they dig into topics are disparate as the desperation of addiction (“Lorraine”), the grappling of self-image (“Who Else Could I Be”), the vitriol of politics (“We Are”), and the genetics of suffering (“A Face Like Mine”). “We Are” and “Who Else Could I Be” were originally written for a dance piece that Gina Patterson choreographed for the San Angelo Civic Ballet. Even so, Adams made sure the songs could stand alone in their own world no matter what else was swirling around them — confidence and completeness in action.
As a work of musical art, A Face Like Mine fulfills the promise of Peter Bradley Adams. And rarely has an artist’s standing still sounded so divine.
Singer songwriter Peter Bradley Adams grew up in a musical family, and credits his grandfather, a jazz musician proficient in the piano and clarinet, as being his earliest musical inspiration. Adams began playing piano at the age of 6 and continued studying piano throughout high school and college. After a stint in film scoring he went on to become co-founder of KCRW/AAA radio darlings and commercially successful duo eastmountainsouth, signed by Robbie Robertson to Dreamworks Records. After eastmountainsouth broke up in 2004 Adams went on to garner critical acclaim as a solo artist and launched his own record label, I Me Mine Records, in 2014 with his fifth solo album, The Mighty Storm, which was recorded in Nashville. His sixth solo effort is A Face Like Mine.
“Adams is fast developing as a songwriter who both inspires and questions”– Nic Harcourt / Los Angeles Times Magazine – Jan 2010
“…one of the 21st-century writers whose songs are worth exploring.”– Wall Street Journal – 2009
“…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.” – No Depression – 2014
“…Adams fuses intimate, emotionally powerful lyrics with graceful, low-key roots-based indie folk on his fifth solo effort, The Mighty Storm … both soothing and challenging” – All Music Guide – 2014
“…an organic record, executed with precision and feeling… possessed of a coherent musical vision and emotional resonance that stands above the crowd. T Bone Burnett would be likely to give this one a nod.”– Minor 7th – 2014
“…The Mighty Storm, his fifth album, recorded in Nashville, is a wondrous, poetic collection of enchanting songs” – Entertainment Realm Blog – 2014