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Adam Bay - "Pacific Blood"
Review By Aron Radford
Adam Bay is Weissenborn instrumentalist that hails from Vancouver Island in Canada. This is his debut album release and represents years of playing, songwriting and performing honing his craft and his unique sound and style. The man and the album have nature at their very core, Adam lives and breathes the rugged wild wilderness of his region and embraces mother natures wonderful gifts with a zeal and passion that shines through into his music. The making of this album has been a long road for Adam and he was determined to make his debut album something special, and that’s exactly what this is …special. The album has many ‘new age’ musical elements to it with the addition of didgeridoo, harmonica, fiddle and percussion. Not to mention the wonderful ambient effects and layering that has been loving rendered all over this melodic body of work.
On first play I was totally captivated and the whole listening experience was sensually immersive. Simple but effective melodies gliding and soaring over lush ambient soundscapes. Listening to this album is like walking deep into a forrest and throwing your arms up high and spinning round getting giddy on fresh air and the feeling of the euphoria being right in amongst mother nature herself. Each tracks instrumentation sounds similar but purposefully different enough to give each its own identity while maintaining unity and cohesion. Playing counter point to the wonderful backing tracks Adam expresses himself with a rarely heard abandon that gives each track a real heart warming aura. You feel his genuine love of the Weissenborn shine through like warm rays of sun on your face. This is an album to get ‘lost’ in. You will be totally engrossed and captivated by its warmth and charm. I love listening experiences like this where you can close your eyes and get lost in your own vivid imagery of the wild frontiers and distant coastal shorelines.
Each track is worthy of individual description and in doing so I hope to convey the albums wonderful depth of quality and consistency. “Cathedrals” is a great opener for the album. It’s slow brooding undercurrent of staccato rhythms and plucked harmonics builds and builds to a finale that sees Adam faded in and play sparingly but beautifully understated melodies. “Harbour View” is one the albums standout tracks for me personally. It’s playful and fresh sounding, and when the harmonica floats in and Adam plays partial muted strummed chord progressions and counter point melody refrains the results are simply divine. “A Night To Remember” has a quaint classical renaissance feel to it. A gorgeous duetting violin is one of the most perfect accompaniments a Weissenborn can have in my opinion and the interplay between the two instruments here is such a delight to listen to. “Life’s A Beach” is another lively melodious composition that has that wonderful air of playfulness to it again as Adam skips and moves all around the fingerboard with a nibble and exacting touch. Bring in the Didgeridoo and switch it up and it takes on another feel, more tribal and earthy. “Roots” has some has really big funky (almost reggae like) grooves. With the use of some subtle wah-wah and a defined drum/percussion backline underpinning it the results are more explosive and in your face. This track must sound awesome when played live and being totally engaging for the audience. An old favourite from years back is a re-recorded version of “Coast”. This track was my first ever experience of Adam Bay musically nearly 3 years ago now and still to this day the track has a mystical siren call quality to it that i will never tire of listening to. It’s a roll call of the mans’ instrumentation prowess. Weissenborn, didgeridoo, harmonica and percussion this is what Adam Bay is all about live on stage, a one man band scenario that captivates audiences everywhere he plays. This is Adam Bay all summed up in one track for me, tribal, rootsy, ambient, melodious and immersive.
The first half “Pacific Blood” is a Weissenborn master class in playing technique and execution. Alternating thumb bass lines interspersed with melodic top string refrains and complicated plucked harmonic runs. Then half way through bring in that tribal percussive backline again and the track takes on new meaning and energy. It’s obviously the albums title track for a good reason because I thinks it’s the real standout track (amongst many stand out tracks) on the CD. “Anchor” is a spritely and playful track with a faint Gaelic shanty feel to it with those wonderful violins accompanying once again. “Route 4” with its masses of initial reverb gives the track a real sense of depth and perspective, it has a real melancholy feel to it, slightly remorseful and reflective is how this track makes me feel. It's wonderful how music can make you feel these emotions and Adam has a wonderful quality to translate these moods and feelings through his playing and that’s a tremendous ability to have as an instrumental musician. “PNW” offers up something more upbeat and lively to lighten the mood and is a nice contrast. Multilayered and very rhythmic this track has some sublime hooks and refrains that really get in your head and stick, trademarks of quality in my book. “Liquid” is a top three track for me. Just great song writing and execution elevate this composition into the realms of ‘standout’. I can safely say that by this point in the album that there is an ‘Adam Bay Signature Sound” going on here and this exemplifies this style to a tee, playful, melodic, light fingered and immersive. “Two Tides” a monster of a Pink Floyd esque track coming in at nearly 7 minutes long. In some respects I wish all the tracks had of been of this length as I will be honest I felt all of them finished too early for an album listening experience. Maybe ‘live’ shorter versions are a necessity but here on CD I think Adam could have indulged us all with longer renditions on all these tracks and made this listening experience a truly self indulgent project such is the quality on what’s on offer here. But hey that’s just me being positively resentful that this listening experience finishes way to quickly for my greedy personal listening needs.
To summarise this album is deliciously melodious and genuinely heart warming. A release that oozes charm and expressiveness. It goes without saying as a fan of Weissenborn you must buy this CD as it represents what is great about Weissenborn instrumentalism in todays niche market. This is easily one of the top (if not THE top) releases in 2016 for Weissenborn fans.
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