album reviews

Peter Bradley Adams
Sarathan Records (2008)

Peter Bradley Adams certainly knows how to make melancholy sound enticing. "Leavetaking" highlights disappointments and departures with a lulling voice that is so captivating, it's nearly impossible not to get pulled in. Case in point: "I'll Forget You" might sound like a kiss-off, but Adams's velvety voice and rolling banjo-plucking are trance-inducing to the point of numbing any underlying frustration or sadness, leaving behind a song soothing enough to be a lullaby.

Adams is no stranger to tough situations: His previous project, the folk duo eastmountainsouth, barely got going before being lost in the shuffle of label Dreamworks' demise. It's impossible to say how much that event influenced his solo recordings, but it's clear that this is no starry-eyed songwriter: On the opening track, "The Longer I Run," Adams bemoans a recent departure, capturing seemingly contradictory emotions with a rich blend of sorrow ("I miss the life that I left behind") and relief ("I know I left in the nick of time").

"Leavetaking" isn't all sadness, though; he re-recorded the eastmountainsouth tune "So Are You to Me," which he originally penned for his sister's wedding. It's beautiful in its simplicity: In typical Adams fashion, the minimal instrumentation and his soft, calm voice are the true highlights of the song.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 22 August 2008, Page WE08
.: Leavetaking on