Steven James Adams
Old Magick - Fortuna POP! - 4 March
Indie powerhouse Fortuna POP! is proud to announce the release of Old Magick, the second solo album by Steven James Adams, former songwriter/singer/guitarist from the critically acclaimed Broken Family Band. Old Magick is proof that Adams’s gift for marrying exceptional lyrics with inescapable earworms is very much intact.
With minimal instrumentation, Old Magick is, in part, a reaction to Adam’s first solo outing House Music (2013), an album recorded in his living room and featuring an array of musical friends, including members of bands as disparate as pop-rockers The Vaccines and folk-idols Lau. House Music followed two full band albums with indie pop-rockers Singing Adams.
This time around, he relocated to The Premises studios in Hackney with producer Dan Michaelson at the helm. “The irony of going somewhere a bit more high-tech to make something with less people and instrumentation wasn’t lost on me”, notes Adams. With Michaelson also adding guitar and piano - lending his distinctive, pared-down style to many of the songs - and drums from Daniel Fordham (The Drink) the recording process was consciously self-contained. “We worked in a bubble”, says Adams, “Michaelson wanted to make a record that sounded like me, not me trying to do something I don’t normally do—and all I wanted was to make a record that sounded like him recording me.”
While the album title hints at Adams's interest in the dark arts, the lyrical content of Old Magick covers a lot of ground. Opening track “Togetherness” is a topical meditation on how our society treats people from other countries, set to a disarmingly pretty tune. On the upbeat “Kings of The Back of The Bus”, Adams contrasts the posturing of youth with the choices we make as we get older (“Now it’s just massage music”.) Elsewhere, desperation is in the air, as the deluded protagonist of “Ideas” tries in vain to rescue a relationship gone wrong, a theme echoed by “French Drop”, an old conjuring term for a trick in which an object appears to disappear without having gone anywhere. The bad, sad trip of “Sea of Words” pilfers the phrase “the news from nowhere” from William Morris, former resident of Walthamstow, Adams's adopted home, while “The Golden Bough” is “a rock 'n roll song about neuroscience and the "spiritual" choices people make in Western culture.”
Old Magick sees Adams playing with new sounds and ideas but "I've still got the old magic" he says. "I also have some new magic. And some crap jokes".
Adams takes Old Magick on the road in the UK this March, with some magic (and magick?) related surprises. His shows are wonderful to behold: funny, intimate and wildly unpredictable. According to a recent Guardian article "you'd struggle to find a British songwriter of the last 15 years who's had such consistently good reviews." A genuine entertainer, a truly gifted songwriter, and perhaps the closest thing there is to a British Bill Callahan, Adams has produced a high watermark of a record in Old Magick, proof that his reputation is deserved.