Album review: ADAM ECKERLSEY BAND – The Second Album

Adam Eckersley Band - The Second Album

Universal Australia [Release date 15.08.15]

Although released some 18 months ago, this album seems to be getting a more belated push in Europe.

The Adam Eckersley Band infuse harmony laden country rock with a southern rock feel in well crafted songs that put a balanced emphasis on riffs, soulful grooves and uplifting choruses.

And it’s their willingness to stretch out musically and over genres that makes them interesting. Their songs always leave plenty of room to jam and groove, even if they don’t always take advantage of that. And if there’s a downside, it’s simply that their crossover style might struggle to get a hearing in a Nashville dominated music scene currently over populated by denim clad cowboys with heartland lyrics, big choruses and a power guitar solo.

Happily the band stand slightly left field of that template, with a batch of meaningful songs that range from the personal to embodying universal sensibilities.

They open with ‘Live On’ predicated on a big organ sweep and jangling guitars as part of a big wall of sound. It’s a transatlantic friendly style that imbues their essential country rock style with a lot more edge.

‘The Second Album’ stretches beyond the usual country rock crossover by a willingness to jam and extend a song into different styles of music to fulfill its full potential.

The band is the vibrant sum of its parts, as everyone contributes to the songs and musical textures. Guitarist Eckersley has the voice and personality to bring the lyrics to life, but there’s a collective emphasis and an organic approach that comes from the road tested line-up of bassist Scotty Greenaway, drummer Benny Elliot, and Dan Biederman on keys, Hammond, and Wurlitzer.

They are unafraid to crossover into rock, soul, blues and jam band territory which offers them a younger audience base. Their musical arc streches from the commecial eye of Rascall Flatts to the country tinged anthems of Black Stone Cherry without the classic rock crunch. There’s also an openness to their lyrics that encompasses relationship songs and themes of self affirmation based on personal experiences.

Significantly they reference Neil Young on a fine cover of ‘Comes A Time’, which lights up the album and will again broaden their audience. The song fits perfectly with the band’s own style and the album’s sequencing.

Some of their own songs incorporate universal shared meanings, most notably on the heartfelt ‘Hey Little Daughter’, while the romantic ‘Talk About Love’ is a brave choice for a second song but again works perfectly as the band unveil another layer of the onion.

‘Wheels’ is an acoustic/electric arrangement with a big drum sound, with a narrator who is looking for his place in the world: “between living to work and working the dream and playing out my own Hollywood scene.”  It’s also the thoughts of someone who sees a bigger picture: “I feel for the ones who make the news tonight”.

It takes a lot of maturity and self confidence to pen such lyrics in a rock context, but having done so there’s a barrage of guitar that seals the deal and will have rock fans punching the air.

The acoustic ‘For You’ has a close-to-the-mic vocal on a beautifully realized balledic love song, given an additional rustic feel by an unexpected banjo line. It’s almost a sister track to the later piano-led ‘Lost Time’, glued together by a meandering Wurlitzer line, as Adam evokes his feelings.

The uplifting ‘Mocha’ rolls along on the back of a bluesy, train-time rockabilly feel, with a great lead vocal and some hot picking that would make country fans smile.

In sharp contrast the heavier jam feel of ‘Good Night’ shows the other side of the band oeuvre. Eckersley’s guitar lights the fuse over a beautifully stuttering rhythm, significant bv’s and a southern rock feel that offers them big crossover potential.

The band has often mentioned the likes of The Allman Brothers and Charlie Daniels in their interviews and you can add a Little Feat style rhythm to that list on a magnificent track as they stretches out on a two guitar break.

They finish with an Allmans’ influenced anthem ‘Took That Woman’, full of contrasting cool dynamics and an explosive guitar line with superb harmonies and a soaring guitar finish. There’s an unexpected coda featuring some sinuous guitar and keyboard interplay on a perfect finish to an excellent album that takes a significant step in realizing the band’s potential.

‘The Second Alum’ is a big step up for a band that balances an organic live in the studio vibe with meticulously crafted harmonies and good hooks. They are undoubtedly one of Australian’s finest in recent times. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

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