Album review: ADAM DOUGLAS – Better Angels

Sonnet Music [release date 05.02.21]

I first heard Adam Douglas about five or so years ago singing ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ a la Sam Cooke / Otis Redding on a TV game show. Now that’s some song to tackle, and I feared he might come a cropper – but it turned out it was an unmitigated triumph of fantastic singing, and which is still a YouTube hit to this day!

I now discover that Douglas also moved to Norway around that time, adding some eclectic influences to his own melting pot as a boy born and raised in Oklahoma. Since then, he’s toured extensively in Scandanavia and managed to win a TV talent show called “Battle of the Stars”. His melting pot includes soul and blues, but also tinges of americana, rock and roll and country.

Better Angels is Douglas’ third album release, with the title taken from Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address, apparently.

People say that he sounds like Ray LaMontagne, and yes I get that, but to me he is very reminiscent of the 80’s soul singers like Michael Bolton. In fact, while the album has all these influences, at its core is a base of 80’s pop funk, the kind of which is perhaps typified by ‘Hue and Cry’.

When asked about genre, Douglas simply says “Adam”, while also suggesting that his music now coincides somewhat with his happy mid-life crisis.

‘Joyous We’ll Be’ opens proceedings with a full gospel feel and is perhaps the best track on the album. Next up are two singles ‘Into My Life’ and ‘Build a Fire’. The former typifies the pop funk I mentioned while the latter showcases the big productions and full sound which abound here.

He’s not averse to stretching out on lead guitar, and ‘Build a Fire’ sees Adam and the band letting rip to good effect.

‘Whistle to Blow’ changes the pace with some country rock dirty guitar, and is a highlight.
All in all, I think listeners will like this. It’s a good album. The only thing I’m unsure of is who the target audience is, with the aforementioned “pot pourri” of sounds?

Then again maybe he has a captive Scandanavian ready made audience. I just saw him successfully tackle Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” on Norwegian TV and he seems set! ***1/2

Review by Iain McGonigal

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