Nashville singer/songwriter/rocker Andrew Adkins released his debut solo album Troublesome, My Love earlier in September out of Electrahead Arts & Media. This effort shows that heavily produced versatility through predictable musical influences plus cheesy and ambiguous lyricism can hold together an all right album if the song’s production value, hooks and instrumentation are just the right amount of strong.
In Adkin’s first go by himself, Troublesome, My Love blends a couple of thick motorcycle blues almost sandwiching the rest of the album with the electric-Dylanesque 1st track “Punch Drunk Commotion” and “Two of a Reckless Kind” as the bread holding together the meat of the album. The meat is acoustic songwriter-driven folk numbers like “The Blood of a Gambler” and “Estrelita . . . More or Less” and “countrified” 90’s pop-rock act tunes like if Matchbox Twenty, for example, once lived in Nashville and just couldn’t get it out of their sound. It may sound a little tacky, and it is, but the hooks sang by Adkins and played by a backing band made up of John Heinrich on pedal steel and Dobro; Daryl Dasher on bass, banjo and backing vocals; Rodney Russell on drums; Zach Gooch on trumpet; Kim Caudell on violin and himself on the guitar, mandolin, piano and a Dylan-inspired harmonica keeps the 15 tracks together as a solid whole in spite of the lyricism.
The bulk of the words on Troublesome, in any of its musical forms, consist of blowing the whistle on general life. Adkins sings poetically empathetic songs of love and loneliness, tales of being beaten. Then he butters you up with hope until finally, there’s no conclusion or answer to the well-known feelings he sings about while hooking you in. They’re just Adkins’ astute life-observations yet to be finished, and they’re not a bad thing, but they come with an empty feeling afterwards.
The album isn’t hopeless, though. Songs like “A Little Bit of Mercy” and “Sister, Your Soul Shines” are calming and uplifting. The song “We Knew It All Along” stands as the strongest, single-friendly, rolling narrative of a guy who ran into crazy-woman trouble. It’s reminiscent of White’s “Carolina Drama” during the verses. And the final track, “Sun Come Shine,” is a fine example of the folk styling he explores.
Andrew Adkins is in Nashville playing shows at National Underground on Broadway throughout December. Band and tour updates, as well as digital and hard copies of Troublesome, My Love can be found on his homepage www.andrewadkinsonline.com.