After five albums touching on everything from rustic country to folk, Americana to West African Mande music, Georgia’s Adam Klein remains a songwriter in pursuit- both within and without- of songs and stories, working to fashion tales from and of the wide world. And he’s got a lot of catching up to do. “I seem to be on a two-year plan,” he notes, getting a record out every other year or so.... more
After five albums touching on everything from rustic country to folk, Americana to West African Mande music, Georgia’s Adam Klein remains a songwriter in pursuit- both within and without- of songs and stories, working to fashion tales from and of the wide world. And he’s got a lot of catching up to do. “I seem to be on a two-year plan,” he notes, getting a record out every other year or so. “That’s a fairly slow clip that doesn’t keep up with my writing. I’m sitting on four collections of songs which are basically written and unrecorded.” The prolific Klein chips away at his trove of unreleased material with his newest, and most powerful, raw, and rocking album to date, "Archer’s Arrow".
The story begins around 2010, when Klein’s Cowboy Angel Music label released Athens’ pop-rock outfit Nutria’s record, "Permanent Reminder of a Temporary Emotion". The trade-off was that Nutria would back Klein on an album. By the time they convened to record in drummer Jason Eshelman’s basement studio in the fall of 2011, Nutria had undergone a change of personnel, and Klein brought songs written across continents- in Mali, India, in Bloomington, Indiana, at home in Athens, Georgia- and over the span of a decade.
In three or four sessions, Klein gathered with the remnants of Nutria- the ever-steady Eshelman, the dependable Andy Pope (bass), and an extemporizing David Weiglein on electric guitar- and made short order of recording the songs. The approach was simple and loose- Klein played a song for the band, they ran through it two or three times, and hit record. Typically using the first or second take, Eshelman made quick mixes of the tracks and Klein was out the door with the basics of an album.
Though he heard the makings of a strong album, Klein knew it could sound even better with careful sonic attention. So it sat for nearly three years, an unfinished yet promising project. In the meantime, Klein recorded and released "Sky Blue DeVille" to great acclaim with a rotating cast of players in his band, The Wild Fires. Finally, in 2014, engineer, producer, and former Wild Fires drummer Bronson Tew returned to Athens to revisit and fine tune "Archer’s Arrow". Tew brought three songs (“Boybutante Dreams” and closing tracks “Wild Goose Chase” and “Heartbreak Airplane”) to Dial Back Sound studio in Water Valley, MS, and built the tracks along with Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition’s Stuart Cole (bass) and Eric Carlton (organ, piano). The result of the cross-state collaboration bridging Athens’ finest purveyors of pop-rock and the tasteful stylings from the Delta in the service of Klein’s folk rock material is the singer/songwriter’s best sounding record.
"Archer’s Arrow" is a lush, textured collection with thick guitars in the vein of Neil Young with Crazy Horse (compliments of Weiglein and later Tew), organ and pleasing piano, and a steadfast rhythm section balanced by Klein’s signature warm and engaging voice. Some tracks are firmly folk rock in nature and others mark the Americana-leaning troubadour’s assured and welcomed foray into rock n roll.
Here the songs take on a darker lyrical edge, from the taking-stock opener “Song for a New Year” to the blazing end-of-love jam “Burnin’ Love”. And there’s lightness and just plain fun: “Radar Man” is a reworked poem Klein’s grandfather wrote whiling away the time as a radio and radar repair technician in Philippines during World War II, “Boybutante Dreams” imagines the inner turmoil of a man transitioning to being a woman, and “Say You Don’t Love Me” (with what Klein considered a throwaway lyric) is a pop gem too fun to dismiss. It’s fitting for Klein to give a nod to one of his favorite songwriters, Neil Young, on the record, covering the slightly obscure track Young performed acoustic on the Johnny Cash show, “Bad Fog of Loneliness”.
Klein’s quiver is full of stories untold and songs unsung. With "Archer’s Arrow", he reaches back and sends out an exhilarating musical shot, straight and true, a folk-rock n roll bullseye.
Klein has performed with a range of artists including as Josh Ritter, Okkervil River, Jim Lauderdale, Robert Ellis, Shawn Mullins, Shovels & Rope, Jonathan Byrd, and Steep Canyon Rangers.
Klein’s records have featured a who’s-who of talented musicians from Athens, Georgia, and beyond, including Randall Bramblett, John Neff (ex-Drive-By Truckers), David Blackmon (Widespread Panic, Jerry Reed), Lera Lynn, Fat Possum Records engineer Bronson Tew, Carlton Owens (Cracker), William Tonks, AJ Adams, Ike Stubblefield (Marvin Gaye, Al Green, B.B. King), and Phil Parlapiano (John Prine, Grant Lee Buffalo).
In 2012 Klein released his first ‘world music’ record, the original Malian Mande collection "Dugu Wolo". An associated making-of-the-record documentary film is in the works. Klein is the founder of upstart independent label Cowboy Angel Music and co-founder of the Athens Americana Music Festival in Athens, GA.less