Michael McAdam

REVIEW: Michael McAdam “Tremolo”


Michael McAdam – Tremolo

There’s a certain amount of charm that emanates from singer-songwriters who are adept storytellers. Each with their own signature – Townes van Zandt, Jon Dee Graham, Guy Clark, John Prine, Laura Nyro, Richard Thompson, Marc Cohn, John Hiatt just to name a few.

Vocalist Michael McAdam (Electric, acoustic, slide & bender guitars/bass/percussion) has been a sideman for 40 years (Steve Earle, Mary Chapin Carpenter) & this is his 2nd solo with some name musicians assisting him.

Michael McAdam

All songs are originals except 2 expressive covers – Tim Hardin’s “Don’t Make Promises,” (originally recorded by both Gary Puckett & the Union Gap & Bobby Darin) & the peculiar choice of the Rolling Stones’ “I’m Free” (the flipside of their hit “Get Off of My Cloud” in 1965).

Many explore varying degrees of life, struggles in southern towns, the metropolitan melancholy of the pavement jungles & the amber lit lives of the imperfect souls who scratch out a living each day. The 10-cuts were recorded in Nashville, TN & produced by Jack Irwin (organ/percussion) & Michael.

Tremolo (Drops April 15–Permanent Records) features the harmony vocals of singer-songwriter Kim Richey on “Venus.” A wonderful melody married to a good lyric. “Hand On the Trigger,” strides loose & confident with virtuosic guitars that slink along in a J.J. Cale swampy stew though lyrically it follows a more Tony Joe White recipe. David Eggleston provides drums here. What this all amounts to is a wise songwriter who created something wholly original by interpreting some masters. A job well done.

None of the music is performed with extravagance. It’s all about the music, feeling, the song structure, and instrumentation. “Little Places” is like John Hiatt. Flirts with his style — never imitates. Let’s hope Michael becomes as prolific as a Tom Russell. “Allentown” is a Tom Petty-inspired song & possesses a melodic 60s sweetness. McAdams has painted some musical pictures that are practical slices of Americana & he never suffers a poverty of ideas. He remains in the framework of what he does best.

Players include the E-Street Band’s Garry Tallent (bass on 4 tracks), Greg Wetzel (piano), Bruce Bouton (pedal steel), Butch Baldassari (mandolin), Tim Carter (octave mandolin), Keith Brogdon & Paul Deakin (drums), Peter Cronin (harmony vocals) & Eugene Paul (add’l drums).

Finally, “Chuck’s Mood,” closes the CD with a melody credibly enhanced by lead guitar reminiscent of the late great, if not low-key, Roy Buchanan (the song is for Roy). A delicate, respectful dedication to a masterful guitarist.

This is late-night FM radio stuff – chilling in its beauty. An LP worth getting lost in. If you have good headphones, pour wine, slice some cheese & close your eyes.

Let Michael McAdam show you the way.

Color image courtesy of Michael’s website. The CD is available @ https://michaelmcadam.com/

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