Singer-songwriter Peter Bradley Adams has long been intrigued by wandering. He loves the idea of setting one foot before the other, no destination in mind, his steps more guided by a goal – find something better, anywhere but here.
“I’m real fascinated by these old traditional tunes about leaving and wandering and looking for home,” Adams says. “A lot of them are old gospel songs, some are just traveling songs. Some of them are love lost songs. They’ve got this vibe in them, ancient, longing, that draws me too them. I really respond to that.”
It was around that principle that he arranged his newest album, Leavetaking, the title itself taken from a word in Mark Strand’s poem, “The View.” The word alone fostered a flurry of creativity, inspiring Adams to again start scripting tunes like “The Longer I Run,” a half-dirge for a disappointing past and the sad circumstances that surround a fruitless, endless life on the road.
Unlike that tune’s protagonist, Adams, formerly of duo eastmountainsouth, has found success since leaving his recent hometown of Los Angeles and moving to Nashville. It was there that he recorded Leavetaking with producers Peter and Lex Price. Among the newly written work was “Los Angeles,” a romantic reflection on the sometimes sad lives led by artists residing in the City of Angels.
“You carried us in broken dreams / like a mother does her sons / We were scattered ‘cross your dirty streets / We were dying one by one / You held us in your city lights / when our eyes had lost the stars / and we made our peace with lonely nights / and you healed our broken hearts.”
Now in Nashville, Adams says he can already feel himself growing as a songwriter, if for no other reason than because of the musical company that town keeps.
“It kicked my ass a little bit as a songwriter,” Adams says. “You’re a little tougher on yourself. Being surrounded by all these great songwriters and hearing all this stuff being written, the bar is set really high. There’s great people in L.A. too, but there’s something about how concentrated it is here.”
While he doesn’t speculate much on how the relocation has affected his sound, he does believe it has helped him find his own voice and, under Lex Price’s guidance, made the album more coherent.
“Gather Up [Adam’s first solo album] was a little all over the place,” Adams says. “It’s sort of cohesive, but it’s not nearly as cohesive as Leavetaking. I feel like this one sounds like me. At least me 2 months ago … “
He was so determined to preserve that sound-of-self that he ducked convention and cut the album with only nine tracks, a song or two short of the usual LP length.
“I think the songs started accumulating and it kinda became clear which were the ones that were good and which were to be tossed aside. They just had a certain vibe to them, and working with Lex we kind of knew what was going to work and what wasn’t,” Adams says. “It’s sort of between an EP and a full-length now, but we’re charging less for it. So, hopefully people will think they’re getting their money’s worth.”
With all innuendo aside, Adams is hoping listeners will judge him based upon the overall performance rather than size alone. After taking in a few tracks from Leavetaking, filled with a mix of Adam’s tremulous, mournful vocals and cinema-soundtrack caliber songs, it is more than likely they will do so.
Now, having perfectly told these tales of wanderlust, Adams may have a more permanent direction – up.
- Peter Bradley Adams performs at IOTA Club & Cafe Aug. 25 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. For more on Peter Bradley Adams, visit www.peterbradleyadams.com.