An Interview With PD Adams
In a full album release from PD Adams we get a very Lush and extremely personal and one-on-one songwriting approach that creates this atmosphere that you can drift through and become engulfed in.
When it's all over you feel like you know this person better. Like you've sat down and talked with an old friend for hours and heard stories and shared emotion,
This Curious Wonder is a release brimming with heart, soul and a lot of inner self rising to the surface in robust and descriptive manner that gets you so involved and attached that you feel at times like the songs were meant for you.
The record has a full-bodied acoustic backbone and the songs play through like chapters of a life lived but you get a great understanding for that life and because you can relate to a lot of the material, you feel what's supposed to be felt when listening to this record.
Beautiful and vast soundscapes and songs touch on different topics but all in all can be quite existential which is something that we all feel at times but don't really know how to express even how we feel about that.
This is why artists like PD Adams are so incredibly helpful for those who need to know that they're not alone or that it's okay to understand someone else's stories.
Music like this makes you think and it makes you feel. I think we all need that kind of music and not just right now, always.
We've always needed music that we can relate to that can move us or touch us in some way and when that happens, it becomes infectious and you want to find a way to share that yourself.
It's completely refreshing and wonderfully woven, from beginning to end, and it definitely shows a knack for a certain kind of songwriting that is certainly nothing brand new by any means, but when it's done right like it is here, it's impactful.
The vocals are all done with a passionate delivery and even the guitar playing is graceful in its own right.
So this is a very big record and it's best soaked in as a whole meaning, there are standalone songs here, like diamonds in the rough but, listening to the whole album in one shot is the way this was supposed to be heard so that you get the full story.
I have a pure love for these kinds of Records. Records that if you listen to them straight through you get shaking a little bit. When it's over you have to find your footing again to acclimate yourself back in reality.
I think that records are supposed to do that.
Good albums should shake you up a little bit and should feel like an escape into someone else's story.
This whole aspect is captured with this release so I would have at least suggest headphones and some time to listen to this one.
With the release of such a fantastic album, we wanted to have a sit down with PD Adams (Paul Adams) to find out where this actually came from and what may be coming up next for the artist.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Okay Paul, let's start with This Curious Wonder! This album had such rich storytelling and rustic undertones! How did this record come about? Thanks for that observation! Doing the album was like pulling off the top of my head and looking around with amazement about the wonder of it all; from the heinous to the sublime, we’ve got it all right here on our mighty planet. Because of its subject matter being a bit existential (In a rustic corn fed kind of way) I wasn’t sure it would connect with everyone in the Americana scene. But so far the reviews have been really wonderful! I had released 12 albums in the New Age/Jazz genre from 1989 to present and had success and won a few nifty awards. BUT, I was very shy about the lyric oriented work and kept the songs in This Curious Wonder hidden. I had been working with my best friend David Hoffman who spent much of his life playing and arranging for Ray Charles. Now and then we ’de make an informal lyric video just sitting on the stairwell at home and uploading it to YouTube. That was the first step. I was also working with the talented Australian Elizabeth Geyer. Her sophisticated lyric jazz oriented albums knocked us out. Bruce Lundvall at Blue Note Records wanted to be involved in her next album The Bridge. I was helping with production and in the process she convinced me it was the right time to complete my lyric songs. We’re all here to face our “fears & boogies” so I did it. AND it was very liberating! It was my acoustic Americana-ish existential songwriter child that had been waiting to receive birth for years. It was like finding home. As it was so different from my other albums I used the slight name variation of PD Adams (Rather than Paul Adams) so as not to confuse my other fans on streaming media that are accustomed to the instrumental stuff. Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you musically?
Well, as I said above, the instrumental music was my first outing. I had been an instrument builder (Luthier) for years (A 10 stringed Swedish Hummel for Daryl Hall was perhaps my most exotic instrument), but knew I really wanted to compose, so I used my background in ethnomusicology, instrument making and my love of the eclectic. I would mix world music from India, Bali and just about everywhere for those albums. They crossed boundaries of world fusion, Native flute and ambient meditation. I’m one of those who love variety and have a passion for almost all genres of music. But as I said, it was time to do the songwriter stuff. I titled the album This Curious Wonder as the songs reflected everything about this mysterious world. I’ve always been haunted by those nagging inner questions of “why”. This all seems a magical game of chance and order. And the years I spent working in mental health was exposure to those experiences many in the “normal” day to day world don’t encounter. I loved that I was facing my fear and connecting with the deepest inner part of myself. Without getting these stories out I felt incomplete. Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?
As you observed, lyrically I’m rather existential. I’ve always been haunted by the big questions. I am not good writing about girls and beer. I’m also not drawn to the “machine” aspect of the music industry. I like the poets, the aliens. As I said, I worked in mental health a number of years. Those noble souls are forced to look within…. to examine their own deeply unchartered inner territory. They have to face the big questions of reality, meaning, sanity and balance in a world that doesn’t always show itself to be on an healthy even keel. That was a huge influence. Buzz Slayers: This album has some great styles combinations on it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?
Ha, let’s see. Generally speaking I’d say everyone. As a kid it was Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith etc. That led to Coltrane, Ravi Shankar, Dylan, Joni Mitchel, Mickey Newberry, John Gorka and so many others. Rodney Crowell also inspires me. He feels soulful and real. But, for This Curious Wonder I focused on inspiration from the latter group of writers. I’m always interested in causality and exploring beneath the surface. My song “Freaks” explores the disaffected and the irony that sometimes those who are alienated and hurt, seek out others to hurt. It’s a deep cycle. The most recent mass shooting in Nashville bears this out. “Man At 4th & Vine” showcases those aliens and strangers among us. And that sometimes what we think of as an empty vessel is really a lamp of great wisdom. “Spark” explores a sense of new grass groove with poetic explorations of just how that spark of anything, underlies and inspires all of us, from the street cleaners to the shining stars. I’m keen on showcasing how the humanity unfolds within each of us. Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
Walking the dog in the woods, looking for great film and literature. I need to take more time for meditation, silence and embracing stillness. I’m a sucker for anything that touches my heart and long to search out examples of human nobility. This place is like a big carnival. As I implied earlier,what ever you want, it’s all right here, from the heinous to the sublime. With Curious Wonder I felt like a carnival barker shouting “welcome to the big top!! And I want to participate in helping. I think we’re in a very crucial time. We have such power at our fingertips and don’t always have the skill, balance and maturity to use it well. I want to learn to oppose this current insanity with passion, yet leave behind the venom. It’s a work in progress. Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
I’m embarrassed to admit it. I don’t listen enough. But I want to mention two songs from John Gorka. The best song about Elvis ever written that speaks of the deep truth we should learn from him called “That’s Why”. Also because of both of our fathers wounds from WWII his song “Semper Fi”. All of Elizabeth Geyer’s songs touch me. When I’m feeling cynical about the industry I’ll listen to “Middleman”. “Elina” and “The Wall” also hit very deep and reflect the deeper aspects of the human condition. She explores those areas most leave alone. Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
Currently not much. I’m lucky in that streaming in the instrumental area supports me. I’m Spotify weak, but have 130 million streams on Pandora and it takes the pressure off. I do want to reach people with “Curious Wonder” but I’m not known in this Americana Genre so it can be difficult getting heard. I started this album rather late in life. I’m like the world’s oldest dude with a debut album. I would love to see slow growth there as I believe the songs are, well, not easy, but good. I think they work well for this current time. Buzz Slayers: Did you record yourself or hit a big studio for this?
I like working as a painter. The canvas is mine alone. I’m not told what color to create or instrument to use. So I write, produce, record, do artwork, and engineer the whole thing. I played most of the instruments but found help from past National Flatpicking champ Andy Hatfield on eccentric Mandolin and Elizabeth Geyer on vocal. I met Bradley Harper on Instagram who played pedal steel (I loved the idea of risking a complete stranger to the project. I just intuitively felt he was going to be right). In the early years I started out using analog 8 track tape. Then transitioned to the Alesis Digital tape and now mostly use PC. Unfortunately promoting goes along with that and is much less fun. I find it humbling and embarrassing telling others how wonderful I am. I try to think of the music as a gift and not declare complete ownership. Ideas just fall from that “well of wonder” to my head and I’m grateful to have never experienced a dry spell. Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
I have a great deal of songwriter material ready to go and I feel they’re pretty strong. Focusing on the lyric stuff as PD Adams has opened up what is deeply real about me and I’m so grateful. The songs are deeply unusual in respect to what one thinks of in this genre. They came as gifts and to not have finally expressed them seemed unkind to that “well of wonder” from which they came. Besides, fear is no fricken fun. Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Of course a deep deep thanks. I rely on them to help get the word out. But even more, it’s an honor to communicate and connect. This is a weird wonderful plentiful and lonely world. We are absolutely magnificent and strikingly awful. Let us all do anything that can help reduce the awful. But, increasing connection would be the main goal. I’ll still keep producing the meditative stuff as Paul Adams (Along with Elizabeth Geyer) as it can be helpful in this whirling intensity that surrounds us. And I love it. But doing the new songwriter material is deep forward movement for me personally. To stand back, throw open the door and finally express all This Curious Wonder around me was meant to be. I thank the Gods (And Elizabeth Geyer) for inspiring me to do it.