Adam Douglas‘ music is incredibly hard to categorise and incredibly easy to listen, dance and sing along to. Taking in country, blues, pop and rock with hints of gospel tinged soul, Adam’s new album, Better Angels, is a masterpiece of writing and performing across a number of genres. It also shows that music doesn’t have to stick to rigid sounds, especially in independent music – writing and performing in whatever style you want can come together to create a body of music that defies pigeon holing.
Better Angels is an introspective look at growing older, what Adam calls a “midlife analysis” and starts with the uplifting ‘Joyous We’ll Be‘, which is indeed joyous. The gospel tones are most evident here, enhancing the melody in a simple yet effective way. Keeping it upbeat, ‘Into My Life’ combines memorable lyrics with country tinged pop, taking us further into Adam’s look at the process of growing up and the impact of relationships and fatherhood can have:
“time to step out of the shadows I see and into my life…all that I’ve come through have led me to you”
This theme is further explored in ‘Build A Fire’ and ‘Change My Mind‘. The former has heaps of danceability whereas ‘Change My Mind’ slows it down but both deal with the process of emotional intelligence and how it changes throughout life.
The stand out track is the love song ‘Lucky Charm‘. With a beautiful melody and equally beautiful lyrics, this country ballad finds some of the loveliest lines in recent love songs:
“I awake to find my love still on my arm…my lucky charm
Every song I sing for you”
At the other end of the music spectrum, ‘Whistle to Blow’ is foot stomping rock anthem that has huge danceability and will have you singing along in full voice within a minute – I very nearly chose it as my favourite track of the album. Similarly, ‘Both Ways‘ has a great rock sound, with the added bonus of some fabulous harmonies. This album shows a writer and performer at the top of his game and not afraid to experiment.
Adam’s advice for aspiring musicians looks at not just the music, but everything else that goes along with working in the industry:
“Perhaps the best advice I have is nothing more than being honest. I think more and more that potential listeners and appreciators see right through the bullshit. The musicians and artists that make a lasting impression on others, are those that tap into the human condition. They present something almost indescribable, untranslatable, but at the same time, something real. The next most important thing is to not be an asshole. Leave your ego at the door, and remember that music is at its best when it’s a team effort. Number three would be to have “big ears”. Listening intensely to what others are bringing to the table, and oftentimes exercising restraint – in order to add what is right for the song (not what might best pad your own ego).”
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