ADAM SNYDER "This Town Will Get Its Due"
(Bare Bones Records)
www.adamsnyder.com www.myspace.com/adamsnyder www.cdbaby.com/cd/adamsnyder
When he was a boy, Adam Snyder's family moved from New York City to Kingston, New York State. It was in the early seventies and he saw these streets with colonial houses and echoes from The Great Depression. When he got the chance as a musician, he went back to New York City and then to the MidWest, Seattle, London. During a visit to his family, mid nineties, the band Mercury Rev came in from Buffalo and before he knew it, he was recruited and shared their success: "Deserter's Songs" went gold! After five years though, he wanted to try the singer-songwriter/guitarist thing and again he was lucky: he found a British label that released "Across The Pond". What happened then is told so adequately beautiful in his bio, that I just quote: "It was the Summer of 2003 and the power had gone out for the third time that season. Adam Snyder had been in Europe the last couple of years, promoting his first solo album. Now he was back in Kingston and his hometown was, literally, dark. Walking the eerily quiet streets at night, Adam could almost imagine it was 100 years earlier. Up from the waterfront through the twisted alleyways, the old moonlit buildings and busted up sidewalks seemed to echo with the voices of those who had come and gone long before. These ghostly sensations would follow Adam back up the hill to his own, darkened 19th century house, where he'd light a candle and pick up his guitar. Eventually the electricity problem was sorted out and the neighborhood blackouts became less frequent, but the spirit of those dark, nocturnal rambles remained, and "This Town Will Get Its Due" was born."
A remarkable album, filled with layered alt.country or "symphonic Americana", as Adam himself calls it, topped off with a light dressing of pop. Adam wrote all the songs, sings them -I especially like his voice when he gets into the lower, a bit throaty registers-, plays guitars, keys, etc. Yes, that "etc." comes from the credits! Richard Hynd is the co-producer and a very fine drummer, while Ian Burdge plays cello on two tracks.
The CD starts off with long song "Ghost Town", featuring all the right ingredients to "enjoy a night out with the ghosts"! That great rhythmic sound of the acoustic guitar stays throughout, joined by the cello, drums and other sounds are entering later. I've said it before in reviews, I have a weakness for songs that build up in just the right way! And for good story-songs: "I can hear the long-gone people say: / One thing brighter than a barn dance / Is the whole barn burning down / Then one night we had the chance / To see 'em burn the whole damn town / They burned it down" and right there the powerful drums come in! "Snake Hill" is a loose homage to Mickey Finn and "Ask The Dust" tackles the ages old subject of love, missing & longing in a fresh way: "If I could see who turned out the light / her face might ring a bell." With loveballad "Snow Angel" another beauty arrives, those harmonies are put down in a truly creative way! "I've waited all Winter / For a letter that never came / So here you are / My melted angel / For no one to see / Except maybe me."
After instrumental "Stray Dog", we hear the highlight of this album: a song about a migrant worker who refuses to give up, "Trickle Down", that could easily measure up to the songwriting of James McMurtry or Kris Kristofferson. The difficult issue of cheap labor seen through the eyes of the man who works in the kitchen of a diner:
"But they must think I'm a rich man
Down where the buses stop
It's always most expensive
Where the poor people shop."
"You splash right by me
While I'm walking in the rain
And like the muddy water
You'd like to see me flow back down the drain
From where I came."
"We do what we gotta do
You're paying your mortgage
To buy your ivory tower
I somehow make my rent
On 3.50 an hour."
Wow, I'm deeply impressed...
And this track is followed immediately by the dark emotions of "Down The River", a bit like a Chip Taylor song or an old Springsteen ballad, with more inventive layers of harmonies. "I'm giving up / Putting buckets where the rain falls / Mystified / That I ever cared at all / I'm going down / To the river where she flows / I'm going to lose myself / Wherever she may go." The story of a couple trying to relive "The Night We Snuck Into The Fair" results in a long, too sweet symphonic ballad with strings, instrumental "Piano Song" is indeed a good piece of pianoplaying and then there's title track "This Town Will Get Its Due": a catchy, hopeful kinda gospel with handclaps that you can try to get off your mind, won't work anytime soon... And you can't forget the story of this town (envisioned in the colorful artwork by Lynn Woods) and its people either: "A small city trying to find its place in 21st century America. The town's story and Adam Snyder's story have a few things in common."
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, March 2007.