Kentucky native Loretta Lynn once sang the line “if you’re lookin’ at me, you’re lookin’ at country” and I think that line can easily be applied to a new Kentuckian who is coming up through the ranks just a little over 100 miles from where the Coal Miner’s Daughter was famously born on a hill in Butcher Holler – the Kentuckian in question is Sydney Adams and she has just released her debut EP appropriately titled Always Home To Me. The five track EP demonstrates Adams’ abilities as a singer-songwriter and it courses like a river through the various musical traditions of her home-state including classic country, southern soul, and of course, bluegrass. With songs about half-empty whiskey bottles, being far away from home, and the endurance of becoming a country music singer who stays true to her sound amidst the ever-evolving genre – Adams is most certainly an artist for lovers of authentic, stripped down, rootsy country in the same vein as the Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss, of course Loretta Lynn, herself.
The first track, “Half Empty”, deals with the yearning of a lover who has since moved on and the memory that haunts the narrator, which pushes them to start drinking – “My bottle’s half empty/yes I’ll drink the rest/I play it over and over in my head/I’m not going to stop until I’m dead”. The track is hauntingly beautiful and features brilliant use of a weeping steel, propelling the song into a quintessential “tear in my beer” tune. The second track “Always Home to Me” features strong bluegrass instrumentation in Adams’ celebration of her home in Eastern Kentucky. Recalling images of her mama cooking and dancing to music from 1963, the blue grass, rolling hills, and hollers of her home state, the song stands as one of the highlights of the collection creating a sense of nostalgia for times that have gone by and a place that will always be familiar.
The third track, “Long Way to Memphis”, deals with a relationship that needs a new start in a new location. It is prevalent that the narrator’s relocation to Memphis is vital for the survival of her relationship and that the journey she is taking is not simply for repositioning but for rebuilding. The song is hopeful in the face of uncertainty and is brought to life through heartworn instrumentation and a flawless vocal delivery. The song, “I Don’t Care”, demonstrates Adams’ determination to succeed as a country music singer, no matter the opinions of detractors or critics. In a world where country music is constantly evolving away from its roots, it’s wonderful to hear someone like Adams keeping it real country and making it known that she is going to keep it that way. The last song on the EP, “Bringing Her Memory Home”, showcases Adams in all her twangy country brilliance. The standout country ballad has the narrator questioning her lover about their relationship and whether or not he longs for someone else that he used to be with. “After all this time does she still cross your mind/Cause I can’t go on with you bringing her memory home”. The track has all the ingredients to make a perfect country song, much like all the others on the EP. I definitely would recommend Sydney Adams to anyone that loves old school country music – for her sound encapsulates all the qualities that make the genre great. I think she has all the potential in the world to stand as tall as her heroes and to carry on the rich musical traditions of her home state. I cannot wait to see what she does next.
Sydney Adams – Always Home to Me (2019)
- Half Empty
- Always Home to Me
- Long Way to Memphis
- I Don’t Care
- Bringing Her Memory Home