Adam Levy – Naubinway
Adam Levy delivers nothing less than an original, exciting sound on his latest album Naubinway. A veteran of several bands that play everything from soul and funk to electronica and experimental, the unstoppable Levy serves up a smorgasbord of sound on this thirteen track recording. Dedicated to his son Daniel that passed away recently, Naubinway is a journey of light/dark and sun/shade that touches on just about anything and everything musically.
There is no fear exhibited on Naubinway, or reluctance to toy and test unusual textures, sounds and atmospheres. “Take It As It Comes” is a great lead-in number but somewhat of a red-herring when stacked against the rest of the album. Here Adam digs deep into a mesmerizing, folk/blues acoustic riff as the honey in his voice envelopes the music with class and rich drama. The acoustic beauty turns to malice on the wayward, tumbleweed roll of “Potter’s Field” with the tempos hurried, the singing more acrobatic and a few dollops of bleak, hymnal bass notations anchoring the song down into a sonic mire of lurid groove.
Throw out everything you thought you knew or predicted about this record because “Atoms Never Die” swerves out of the lane of older vibes and crashes into the current age with a jolt. The acoustic guitar is still present but it’s surrounded by poppy vocal hooks, ambient shoegazing where autumnal layers of electronica fill in the background and a rhythmic churl that propels the song forward into a sort of pop/indie/rock/soundtrack amalgamation…the whole feel of it is pleasantly surprising and off-the-cuff when compared to the material that came before. An electric guitar grind and shocking bolts of noise send “This Friend” down a darker alley of folk and indie than most bands would be willing to journey these days. Levy employs similar tactics on the piano-spruced “When Your Well Runs Dry” which eventually careens into a faintly rising wall of guitar ballast, keyboard wails and crunching drums.
“How I Let You Down” reverts the music back to its origins that began with Levy’s band the Honeydogs and carried on as far as the first two tracks of this recording; an acoustic guitar twinkles in the night sky above while Adam paints the cosmic canvas with color thanks to his enrapturing vocal melodies. If you mixed the Beatles psychedelic oddness with some acoustic-leaned folk you’d probably have the strange emanations of “Pitch Black Path,” where pop melodies are doused in trippy backwards guitar lines and muffled organ accompaniment. Easily a pick for album standout “Eucatastrophe” kicks off with a doom-y piano progression and subterranean amp rumble that equates to a depressing, delirium-inducing funeral march. A lead melody played on the cello further blackens the skies, leaving Levy’s uplifting acoustic guitar riff and an energetic bass/drum boogie to finally lift the tension enough for a really catchy song to materialize.
Another highlight is the opposites attract stutter of “Marigold” as it swirls and swims its way through cascading acoustic guitar strum, soaring vocals and the comfortable folk feel that marks the meat of Levy’s songwriting. Everything remains well into the end where the band explodes and the rhythms pound in a stormy rock n’ roll ending that doesn’t sound like the music that came before it in the least. “Clemens in Plainview” is vintage country music to a tee, the likes of which would put a smile on Hank or Merle’s faces. Slide guitar is primary method to the madness and the rhythm section plods out a dust kickin’, Dodge City boogie throughout. Entering on a plummeting snare beat, “I Wish You Well” cross-pollinates a tropical island melody with Hammond organ and slide guitar for another bout of the Nashville crossover sound. “Handful of Sand” continues to dabble in country, although it sets all of the pluck and twang atop the rhythm section’s waltz. The title track ends the album as it began with singer/songwriter inspired, acoustic folk where Levy does all of the heavy lifting.
Naubinway should appeal to a vast cross-section of music fans as it encompasses a little bit of everything that makes original music worth listening to. The more and more you listen, the more and more the music gives back as each of Levy’s compositions are flooded with neat ideas and well-developed sounds. It’s hard to tag this disc with a genre… this is just good music played by a good musician and it’s well-worth listening to!
8 out of 10 stars.