Raised in Marietta, GA but based now in Birmingham, Alabama, Wilder Adkins is a Southern boy with typical wit and twang matched with a profound sophistication. With a few full-length albums already under his belt, the folk singer-songwriter’s latest self-released record, Hope & Sorrow, releasing officially next week, acts as an amalgamation of his previous experience and an advancement of future experimentation. Though the new album maintains Adkins’ signature elements–like his quiet, shaky vocals and gentle instrumentals–overall, the tracks are more expertly produced and mature this time around. Growing up in a musical family and living and learning culture and identity in India for a while has its perks–Hope & Sorrow is the result of that.
In twelve tracks, Adkins questions the value in heavy concepts like hope and trust by writing poetic lyrics, mastering guitar skills, and letting his gritty, versatile vocals tell stories on his tongue. The album’s title track is a stand-out on the record, a sweet ache apparent in Adkins’ voice when he sings inquisitive lines like “And oh my word/How bittersweet this life/With hope and sorrow/Intertwine”. Though it’s a strong track instrumentally, the rhythm remains uncomplicated, gently pulsing in the background, compared to all-instrumental track “Sericea”, which shakes and slithers with colorful beats and twinkling rhythms. When the album ends with the powerful, eerie track “Wrestle”, you’ll wish it hadn’t, but distant drum beats and pained vocals will at least remind you of its overwhelming emotion mapped out with a mature musicality.