With Dave Burns having recently released a solo EP now Adamson, the other half of The Marriage, delivers her second solo album, Landing Place, produced by Dean Owens, featuring Nashville’s Jen Gunderman on keys and Jon Mackenzie on guitar and with Burns, Owens and Jason McNiff as co-writers.
She kicks off with the delicately folksy fingerpicked ‘No Other Mother’, a melodically tumbling tribute to her own mother, Alexandra, a former champion Highland dancer, and a song addressing lockdown separation as she assures her “You’re a wonder/A survivor/A fearless soul with the world in your eyes” as the arrangement opens up to embrace piano and scuffed drums. And from maternal tributes to a celebration of the uptempo jogging country coloured ‘My Father’s Songs’, an Owens co-write that offers a tribute to the late Stuart Adamson, founder of The Skids and Big Country, tapping into the experience of grief and remembrance as she sings of waiting him to call from the road, of how “I never knew my father/’Till I sang my father’s songs” and that “to me he’ll be forever young/As I carry him in me/And my journey’s just beginning/Now through his eyes I see”, the poignancy accentuated by Mackenzie’s slide solo on her dad’s Antigua Burst Fender Strat guitar.
Buoyed up by a Celtic-shaded bounce and strummed guitar, ‘Stars On The South Coast’ offers a semi-autobiographical tale about a young couple (“We moved down to Brighton, bought a little hideaway/Spend our days writing, singing songs about the olden days”) and a post-fight close call car crash (“I gave birth in April/We had a little daughter/Every time I hold her/I think of how you fought for her/And how we almost lost you/Now we are a family/We holiday in Texas/You and me and Emily”).
The music get swampier with the bluesy groove of ‘Coals And Ashes’, another Owens co-write, about how hard it can be to extinguish the smouldering embers of an old flame (“Somewhere in the dark our love is waiting/Among the sinners and the saints”) before taking a rockier turn with ‘I Will Sign’, an environmentally conscious contemplation of the future our children will inherit (“You won’t be here to pick up the pieces/I won’t be there to know what you’ve done/As the sun dies with it /goes our reason/The world will survive long after we’re gone”) written with Burn and featuring Adamson and Mackenzie trading guitar licks.
Joined by Kirrie McNab from The Gillyflowers, a country rock project Adamson fronted, ‘Up And Down’ harks back to the 60s pop styles of such influences as James Taylor and Carole King in a reflection on her love for music and its influence (“Sometimes a simple song is enough to lift you up/a timeless melody/a voice to set you free”).
She keeps the tempo slow for ‘Time With You’, a McNiff co-write with Joe Harvey-Whyte on keening pedal steel and strong nods to her love of Dolly Parton as she sings of old and present loves and how there’s never enough time to spend together (“I was drunk before I even took a sip, seems I knew you before we even met/I was young and time was walking by my side, I went running to you like a child”).
She return to ecological concerns on the metronomic, chiming strum of ‘They Deserve Better’, framed as a melancholic plea to those who influence the way children think and act (“When we are born our social status, lays the path where life will take us/We’re innocent, until we follow/The ones we trust, into our sorrow”), Owens adding backing vocals in the final leg.
It’s down to the Texicana cantina, brushed drums and mariachi rhythms then, Gunderman on accordion, for the waltzing, lyrically playful (“I’m good at being a mother/I’m good at making a home/I’m great at pretending that everything’s fine/But I’m useless at being alone!”) ‘Useless At Being Alone’, before heading into the penultimate slow swaying fingerpicked and stripped back ‘What Happens When You Don’t Follow Your Heart?’ with its vocally soaring ode to sadness (“I’m a slave to everything I ever wrote/I’m a prisoner of my memories/I’m a prisoner of my own beliefs”) recorded live on the last day of the recording session. Finally, it signs off back in musically upbeat form, with the scat vocal intro, chugging drums and chiming guitar of the West Coast Banglesy 60s walking beat pop of ‘Without Warning’, an optimistic ditty about finding hope in the mystery of how “life picks you up, shows you a good time and quickly throws you down again, without warning”.
The Landing may map a personal emotional inward journey, but the songs here sound very universal notes.
Artist’s website: www.kirstenadamson.com
‘My Father’s Songs’ – live:
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