Artist: Andrew Adkins
Album: The Echoist
Label: Elephant Seed Records
Across the Cumberland River from Music City, East Nashville has become a haven for artists and songwriters like Andrew Adkins. After a decade as co-founder of bluesy power trio Mellow Down Easy and a spell with short lived rockers Lions for Real, Adkins decided to strike out on his own, creating a unique blend of roots influenced, neo-psychedelia.
His latest cut, The Echoist – a lockdown-recorded follow up to his 2017 outing, To Become Immortal Then Die – is an eight track collection which opens brightly with the riffy, Mostly Ouroboros, a tune driven by psych reverse guitars and a plethora of vocal sound effects. While on first listen, ‘MO’ might hint at a ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ era White Stripes, in my book, that’s no reason to set phasers to panic. The upbeat Vagabond Shoes comes next and while it retains many of the late 60’s touchstones seemingly favoured by young Mr Adkins, it’s a far more soulful, groovy affair with a winning falsetto backing the lead vocal.
While the previous two tunes subtly hint at the Tennessee artist’s influences, the third track, Thunder Perfect Mind goes full Alexandra Palace era Floyd. From the sounds of this, it’s clear that this Neo-Gothic Syd Barratt didn’t spend his lockdown watching reruns of Friends. The compact yet fulsome Ruination State comes next, a quality mid tempo shuffle with a pleasantly dreamy refrain. Think Elliott Smith and Ryan Adams without the tragic/unpleasant shit.
Next up, the wonderfully titled, Prince Charming Slit His Throat; one of the album highlights for me. Retro keys and lush backing vocals, this one’s either a ‘Headquarters’ outtake or a great lost TV spy theme tune. The rootsy, genre hopping trip, Bitter Pills, is crammed full of invention but it is overshadowed by track seven, Hazel Barricade Eyes, a desert country belter with just enough Stones/Parsons notes to keep the purists happy as well as a short but lovely acoustic solo to sway your post lockdown flashlight to.
Adkins finishes the album strongly with a Badfinger meets Crazy Horse styled plea called Save the Day and like that, The Echoist was gone, disappearing into the night a little too soon for my liking.
Is Andrew Adkins the hero we need to save the day? Maybe. Maybe not. But while you’re pondering, The Echoist will hold your hand as you skip and trip through the darkness. And in these uncertain times, that’s better than a vein full of bleach.
The Echoist by Andrew Adkins will be released on 13 November and will be available on Elephant Seed Records and from most reputable digital platforms.