Album Reviews

Wilder Adkins

Hope & Sorrow

Artist:     Wilder Adkins

Album:     Hope & Sorrow

Label:     Self Released

Release Date:     04/08/2016

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There’s something uncommonly illuminating about Wilder Adkins’ latest offering, the descriptively titled Hope & Sorrow. It comes across in his ambiance and imagery, his breathless delivery and a sound that sometimes seems to defy gravity by virtue of its lilt and grace. By turns haunting, spectral, tender and tenacious, Adkins is a master when it comes to conveying uncommon emotion, relaying on minimal arrangements that sometimes seem suspended in the ether. A song like “Bright & Beautiful” floats along on a clanging tempo, but the ethereal atmosphere still lingers at its core. “Cherry Blossoms” takes a more traditional tack, courtesy of a solitary strum. Yet even the loping title track conveys that hint of longing and remorse, elements that seem inescapable as far as Adkins’ additives are concerned.

Strangely enough, that apparent sense of melancholia never serves to stifle the sound. While comparisons to forlorn folkies like Nick Drake and Bruce Cockburn seem obvious, Adkins refuses to remain an arm’s length apart, a troubled troubadour who still finds a ready connection and an unlikely if effortless appeal. The cause of Adkins’ dismay is less apparent, but his is a hypnotic allure that makes that tenuous stance all the more engaging. Indeed, on the country-ish ramble, “When I’m Married,” he emulates some Dylan-esque designs, a kind of folk noir with a simple, homespun theme. “There will be no magic words,” he intones. “I am yours and you are mine.”  Glorious indeed.

-Lee Zimmerman

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