Adeem the Artist

REVIEW: Adeem the Artist “White Trash Revelry”


Adeem the Artist — White Trash Revelry

If I’m being honest, I started following Adeem the Artist on Twitter because folks I listen to like them, and it turns out they’re damn funny. With that surface knowledge, I wasn’t sure what to expect when the non-binary country musician’s latest album hit my inbox. Before I had a chance to give it a proper listen, though, the second single from White Trash Revelry was released. “Middle of a Heart” is that punch-in-the-gut type of song that you need a moment (and maybe a tissue or two) after your first listen. Across the 11 songs of their second full-length album, Adeem mixes humor, pathos and the occasional Southern history lesson to give us one of this year’s most emotionally complex albums.

Although this isn’t Adeem’s first album, they’re experiencing wider exposure, so an origin story seems in order. The record’s steely first track, “Carolina,” serves as an introduction to a young life lived between South and North, between Mom and Dad, and the internal scars left by all of that upheaval – “From my grandpa’s fist to my mother’s lips/There’s an ancestral impression/An American inheritance of trauma and depression.” The heartland-ish rocker “Heritage of Arrogance” looks at how little removed we are from the worst of our history – “Two sides of a coin implies there ain’t no better side/It says racism and justice are equally justified.”

Adeem’s ability to distill big issues down to bite-size chunks comes from their ability to see (and write) through the eyes of those closest to them. In “Heritage of Arrogance,” it’s Adeem’s parents who help the singer see where things begin to go askew – “Mom and Dad tried to teach me wrong from right/But their compasses were bad.” It’s not a straight line from lessons poorly taught at home to Klan parades through Southern streets, but that’s how it starts. “Middle of a Heart,” though, is a much more generous look at a generational divide. The song was written for a de facto father figure named Bob in young Adeem’s life. Tinged with fiddle and banjo and spoken as much as sung, the singer recalls Southern rituals and givens (hunting, young love, military service) before the story takes a tragic (yet, inevitable) turn. Like many of the songs on White Trash Revelry, It humanizes the usually anonymous folks we might find in Southern stories. Adeem says that they and Bob agreed on almost nothing, but they still had an inviolable connection. Likewise, Adeem (somewhat of an outsider themself) strives to draw lines between Southern myths and actual living, breathing Southerners, hoping to help bring us closer to people we wouldn’t otherwise understand.

Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Going to Hell” – The most downright country song on the record, complete with fiddle, references to Charlie Daniels and Robert Johnson, and killer lines like “White men would rather give the devil praise/Than acknowledge a black man’s worth.”

White Trash Revelry was produced by Kyle Crownover, mixed and engineered by Robbie Artress and mastered by John Naclerio. All songs written by Adeem Bingham (“Redneck, Unread Hicks” written with Jett Holden and Zach Russell). Additional musicians on the album include Holden (vocals), Crownover (background vocals), Russell (vocals), Craig Burletic (bass), Ellen Angelico (pedal steel, baritone guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, acoustic guitar, keys), Giovanni Carnuccio III (drums), Jake Blount (banjo), Jason Hanna (electric guitar), Jessye DeSilva (piano), Joy Clark (electric guitar), Kristin Weber (fiddle), Lizzie No (harp, background vocals), Mya Byrne (lap steel), William Wright (accordion, synth) and Alyssa Donyae, Caleb Haynes and Dale Mackey (background vocals).

Go here to order or stream White Trash Revelry (out December 2):

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