The Overcast’s The Hits & The Miss column reviews the top few tunes that make an album sing, and the inevitable miss that came short of shining like the rest. Because every kissed ass needs a Charlie horse to keep the artist real.
Adrian House has been a unique voice in the local music scene for a few years now, either as the man in front of The Connexions or doing his own, more subdued solo albums. That dichotomy of fronting a rock band while releasing different sounds as a singer-songwriter, is the crux of this 2016 solo album, Love a Man: Its 10 songs explore an awful lot of musical ground.
“That Dog, That Bone”
Here’s a real stand-out, and you can tell two things: House grew up in the same city as Mark Bragg and probably loves his music; This song would sound at home on a Tom Waits album. Killer song, full of swagger and owning the adventure in sound.
A nicely quiet and folkier number, with fluid guitar and straight-shooting love-sick lyrics. This track makes the unique soundscapes of the album’s recording aesthetic shine. Something about the way the album was recorded and mixed makes it sound like Adrian is in the next room and you’re hearing this stuff live. That minimalism and unique mark on the album’s sound really works on this nice song.
The old-school, Lou Reed or Brian Jonestown Massacre vibe of the song is brought to life by, of all things, an oddly but perfectly timed tambourine hit, its reverbed echo, and some perfect oh oh ahs. Musically there’s nothing much on the go, so the fact he harnesses vocals-as groovemaker to instill mood and hook and a driving force here is quite cool. The disaffected intro to the album is a bit misleading of what’s to come: “Valentine” is not similar in sound to any of the other songs, but then, no song on the album is.
“Love a Man”
The title track stands out by pairing aching chords with a vulnerably vibrato’d-voice, and a subtle but effective use of flute, as the narrator lets himself “face with pride” his feelings for another man. The verse is the star here, with its simple flowing guitar and sing-along feel, and the pre-chorus makes the right call on vocal playfulness.
Nicely done: a daring tune in every way that feels less like quirky playfulness or forced experimentation, and more like courageous exploration of the artist’s breadth of abilities – it’s not even in English. Equal parts Beirut and Adrian House. Bomp Bah Ba dump indeed.
THE MISS: “Rescue”
A horn (cornet?) takes this song to a better place than it would’ve gotten to alone, which makes the album nice – almost every track has a special guest visit from a new instrument. But still, “Rescue” needs a little rescuing in the delivery department to get itself among the album’s highlights like “Love a Man” and “That Dog, That Done.” Feels relatively unenthused.
Adrian is releasing Love a Man Nov 10th at Pony Locale (120 Lemarchant) with specials guest Art Castle. 9-11pm.