Adam Sweet - Sink or Swim
Throughout the summer Adam Sweet has been dropping little tasters of what was to be forthcoming on his second album "Sink Or Swim" and now that it has arrived it does not disappoint. Consisting of twelve tracks, ten of which were co written with Steve Black with one track from each being solely written it's a tour through the blues and covers a wide spectrum of sounds from rootsy harmonica driven tunes through to the relaxed acoustic almost Gerry Rafferty ,laid back type, each delivered with due respect. For this album Adam is backed by his regular band and that has also added to the overall feel of the record as the immediacy of their sound has been captured perfectly, at times you feel like you are in the room with them.
The album starts with a little guitar intro to get your attention before Adam comes in with the title of the opening track "Working On It", with the vocal almost echoing the guitar line of Mr Clapton on "Sunshine Of Your Love", as if a modern apprentice giving a nod to an old master before they dive into the main song. The band, a lot heavier than you might imagine, driven by a pounding rhythm section and of course Adam's sterling guitar work. supplemented by some wonderful backing vocals, make the opener something of a statement of intent. Dealing with avoiding making that final commitment the song is littered with great lines like
"It's not that I don't want the same, you know deep down I do, the issue is the timing give one more year ( or two ) the "or two" hilariously being added off mic
It is straight into "You Or Me", the opening single from the album, which ramps up the pace even more with Adam's guitar lines in the background setting the scene before Ian Briggs's harmonica steals the show on this tale of how a relationship starts. The lyrics are loaded with questions "Who will make the first move you or me?", "Who will break the silence?" as the singer internally calculates what is going to happen next. while also pondering on what might happen if no-one makes a move "Chances pass two lovers by - will that be you and me?". It's electrifying from its opening to its rather abrupt end.
Slowing the pace "Like It Or Not" sees the band move onto a more soulful take on the blues, as we move to a relationship at the other end of the spectrum. From the very start it holds the attention lyrically
"Her eyes told me, something had changed. the wanting replaced by a look unexplained".
Each verse finishes on a different observation Nothing stays the same", "All things will get old", "Dreams crumble and fall" all seemingly pointing towards a break up. This time round it is Josiah J Manning's keyboard work that steals the show, though Adam's vocals come a close second.
A glimpse into the world of the songwriter comes with "Something From Nothing", which is delivered with the band once again in full flow, especially on the glorious uplifting chorus once again replete with female backing vocals.
"Out of nowhere but out of somewhere comes a story to share, you are no-one but you are someone when the magic is there". It's an interesting viewpoint, where the songwriting skill is seen as something at which you are forever learning and that this talent is a hunger that must be fed. Adam has free reign on the guitar sound and has a great deal of fun with the solo.
"Miss You So" is the gentle kind of blues normally purveyed by the likes of Chris Rea, or the late Tony Joe White with the guitar line punctuating through a keyboard background. on this tale of regret. with the writing from Mr Black is sublime painting someone giving themselves a quite brutal self appraisal.
"I never listened to a word you said, took no notice of the books you read
I'm like a lost ship on an ocean trying to find my way back to you I been busy going nowhere classify me as a fool".
Beautifully performed, a truly perfect match of words and lyrics
Following on from Steve's solo writing contribution comes Adam's in the shape of "Devil's Lake" which takes us into Southern Rock Blues - Allman Brothers country!. It's an instrumental and gives us a chance to recover from the emotional wrecking ball of the previous track.
It is slow swamp blues for the opening of "Not A Moment Too Soon" in a sultry slow burner of a tune
There is a sense of something illicit occurring and when they "light each others flame until the morning comes", there is little explanation required as to what is occurring.
Fall From Grace - is introduced by a steady back beat and Adam's guitar work, as we arrive at an intervention of sorts
"Thanks for calling he won't listen to me he won't take my warnings seriously". The situation is further developed in the second verse where enough information is provided for the listener to fill in the gaps, "I think I'm done, I'm giving in, got to think of my son and do what's best for him", With the band once again in full rocking mode this is powerful stuff.
The album closes in style with the ridiculously smooth "Something'll Happen", which could not be any more laid back if played horizontal, and has something of the feel of Gerry Raffety about it circa "Night Owl" in terms of overall sound. It's a slightly unusual track as it sees Adam directly talking to the listener as if in conversation
"Have you ever left a letter unopened? Have you ever left a phone to ring just in case its bad news its bringing"
If you have then this song may come as something of antidote, "Something'll Happen" is like a universal" get out of jail card", a belief that things will work out because they always do!
Acoustic in sound it an absolutely exquisite way to end the record.
For a record whose release has been affected by the current crisis it was destined that the release night show was bound to be affected and indeed it has but instead there will be a celebratory facebook live live stream Friday 11/09 20:00 which should be well worth watching.