Steve Adey - All Things Real
There are times when you read the associated information that comes with a CD and you're left cold, bored and a little frightened to actually play the music a record label have sent you. Then there's times when what you read makes you instantly reach for the 'play' button. When I received the debut album from Steve Adey the latter was the case, a piece of PR proclaiming a singer, songwriter influenced by Talk Talk and The Blue Nile (in fact using their engineer to mix and master this album) who are two of my favourite artists of the 80's.
Playing the album for the first time didn't disappoint. The influence of those two great bands is apparent from the start, a sparse and airy production that allows the music to breathe and where the silences and background noises of the studio are there to augment the music and add to its stature. Opening with a sparse piano piece with no vocals, Death To All Things Real, the sound of the creaking piano stool adds an eerie presence to the song whilst Find The Way wouldn't have sounded out of place on The Blue Nile's Peace At Last a slow, beautifully arranged song with sparse drums and piano with Adey's voice sounding uncannily like Paul Buchanan.
With the ten songs on offer here and how good his original material is, it seems odd to hear a cover of Will Oldham's I See A Darkness which has unfortunately been covered by the late, great Johnny Cash who, in my mind, has made the definitive version of this. Anyone following it is always going to struggle and that's the case here, Adey's version doesn't really add anything to the original nor improve on Cash’s. The same can be said for his version of Dylan's Shelter From The Storm, slowing down the song so it's almost unrecognisable, the stripping back of the song here actually takes away it's beauty, it's just a little too slow to garner any meaning.
But it's the original material here that's the real revelation. There's a hint of alt-country and Americana to proceedings, but it's the more folk-tinged aspects of it rather than the full blown country-rock elements. The songs are so delicate and sparse with rarely anything more than guitar, drums and piano as accompaniment that they don't detract from Adey's skills as a songwriter. The songs may all deal with love, but their spun with a certain beauty. Evening Of The Day a dark ballad of protection and missing love, asking "Lord be with my love tonight" whilst their lover is away and may not return.
This is an accomplished debut record from an impressive talent and one that will hopefully stick around and challenge the over-produced and over-fawned work of the mainstream singer, songwriters.