PD Adams has just released a new album. It’s titled This Curious Wonder. But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
PD Adams (a.k.a. Paul Adams) is an American composer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. On his official website, Adams sheds some light on his interest in music. He says:
“For years I was a luthier building stringed instruments (An exotic 10-stringed Swedish Hummel for Daryl Hall is one example). But composing was my passion. In the 90s inspired by college studies in Ethnomusicology, I released twelve instrumental albums with some success (amassing over 118 million streams on Pandora).”
He adds: “I even won some nifty awards. Even though I was also writing poetry and lyric songs through the years, I was afraid and lacked confidence. I also felt too overexposed to release them.”
Adams concludes: “Thank God it came to me that if these songs fell in my head from the creative place of wonder, there was a reason for it. And my style of recording and producing was valid. None of us should ignore our gifts.”
Adams’ signature sound is now a musical mélange of multiple genres that varies according to the project. In this case, though, it’s a blend of Americana and folk music. Adams discussed his fluctuation in musical direction.
He said: “I love composing the new age and world music, but I’ve always known I was also an old-fashioned singer/songwriter as well. I love being varietal and have always utilized many genres in my music. But it’s created some confusion (Musicians are expected to stay in one genre). In releasing these songwriter lyric-oriented tunes I’ve decided to use a slightly different name (PD Adams), to reduce confusion from my previous albums.
This Curious Wonder
This Curious Wonder is a 12-track album of all original material written by Adams. Adams leads the way on guitar, harmonica, mandolin, sitar, dobro, oud, and vocals. He is backed by other artists including David Hoffman (Ray Charles) on horns, Elizabeth Geyer on flugelhorns, piano, and vocals, Andy Hatfield on mandolin, and Bradley Harper on steel guitar.
Adams discussed the album as well. He stated: “I’ve finally finished This Curious Wonder and I feel as if I have faced this mysteriously wonderful world (That can also be quite difficult at times) and poetically expressed those existential questions and conclusions that have been gifted to me from that magical place of wonder and awe. I am deeply grateful for having done this. Frankly, fear was my main barrier.”
He concluded: “It seems to have vanished. When I was a tiny fella, my neighbor Mrs. Barton told me I should be a singer & lyricist. Took me a while. Again…grateful. It is…different…from my previous work and I hope it touches you as it’s touched me.”
Track by Track
The album opens with “Sometimes I Feel.” As any effective lead-in is apt to do, it quickly demonstrates the direction in which Adams is going on this CD. There is a sense of seriousness here and the lyrics are heartfelt yet somehow still an objective reflection on life. It specifically touches on our limits and how even our empathy has limits.
Track two is the tune “Man at 4th & Vine.” The song seems to touch on the idea that some people in this world can’t be pigeonholed. Is this a song about some homeless man spotted at an intersection or is this an individual with surprising wisdom and mysterious power?
The next number is the lively “Spark.” Is there not a spark in everyone, be it good or bad? The spark is a passion that could be positive or negative and although we all search for it, it perhaps forever remains a mystery to some.
“You Are Not That” has three different endings. Similar to other tracks, it opens with strings and hushed vocals perhaps reminiscent of a sunrise. Here Adams reminds listeners that they’re only human and life is imperfect.
Perhaps the three different endpoints are meant to reflect that. Perhaps Adams is just having fun. Either way, it works.
“I’m Alone” is an intimate offering. It’s a standalone song with its own musical message. It may be a bit overshadowed due to its placement but don’t let that stop you from giving it a careful listen.
The sixth selection is “Winters Year.” Like almost every other piece here, this is yet another example of what Adams can do as a solo songwriter. It’s a seasonal song that is spiritual without being monoreligious.
“Freaks” follows here. The signature sound here remains surprisingly solid on Adams’ admittedly new musical journey. It’s got a timely tragic message concerning the disaffected, the loss of innocence, and one’s self-identity. It comes complete with a pop culture reference or two.
The eighth offering is “Western Wind.” Careful listeners note that while some may have expected Adams to have ventured out of his comfort zone, the fact is the material here makes it obvious that the cuts make it obvious he has given a lot of time and thought to this material. It’s soundtrack-ready.
“Old Faded Photo” seems to focus on a character’s fall from grace. It comes complete with an almost sorrowful sound and a memorable close. Musical metaphor or not, it is a memorable cut.
The 10th track is “Songbird.” Initially, it seems odd that a song with this title concerns both pleasure and pain and love and loss. Yet it also makes it clear that these things are all part of the big picture.
You need both the good and the bad and sometimes they are more closely related than we initially imagine. It is also unique in that it is the only song that is not a solo composition. Adams co-wrote this one with Elizabeth Geyer.
Also included here is “Somewhere In Time.” Not to be confused with the theme from the 1980 Somewhere in Time motion picture soundtrack, this is an original composition.
The Closing cut is “The Picnic.” This one effectively combines the spoken word with the relaxing sound of waves on the shore. It’s an apt album endnote with an ironically humorous ingredient or two.
Overall, this album exposes audiences to an entirely new aspect of the award-winning composer of exceptional new-age music. Adams tries to explain the mysteries of life or the core of the human experience. He notes: “Nature has a sharp and defining chisel. This album reflects the wonder of being shaped and molded by the unfolding mystery surrounding us.”
This disc reveals a new direction or certainly a different one in terms of his creativity and artistic approach. He adds: “It’s all right here, from the heinous to the sublime. Like a carnival barker, I felt like I was screaming welcome to the great big circus of wonder!”
He approached this release from the perspective of a painter. He concludes: “I would blend, tweak, step back and observe.” The finished work is also in part a reflection of his ability to work with others. So, check out PD Adams’ This Curious Wonder and feel the “Spark.”