Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wilder Adkins: Oak & Apple

by Lee Waites

The morning air was nice and cool, a pleasant mist was drifting around. It doesn't help that I live in the woods surrounded by the peace of nature. I put on my downloaded copy of Wilder Adkins's Oak & Apple and proceeded to be called home. The way Adkins handles the message in these songs is the same way he handles the guitar. It is distinctively delicate, purposeful and beautiful.

Adkins's voice, self described as "drony" combined with the soft, sultry woodwind vocals of Gabrielle Jones, female accompaniment on most of the songs is perfect for the simple message. The complexity, not one of vanity, is buried deep within the spirit and wrapped in the essence of the message. The performances drip like honey and sway like trees in the wind, in a union of nature and spirituality. Each note is crisp and cleanly played  and the rhythm of the nuanced fluctuations, accents and stresses is inspired and near perfect. 

The lighter, crisp voice of Kaylor Otwell, female vocalist on track four, "He is Risen," likewise fits comfortably with Adkins's own...complimentary, lilting, floating side by side, never in conflict. 

"It started pretty small," says Adkins. "I was just going to make a short hymns EP between recording albums of my original stuff, but it turned into a full length project. I've always really liked old hymns because the words are so rich. I think this is a special project because these songs do hold a lot of meaning for me. A lot of people have told me that this album is very peaceful and I'm glad to hear it. I don't like a lot of modern hymns albums which basically sound like U2 singing old hymns or something." 

The album is obviously a work of faith for Adkins who wrote tracks 1, 4 and 7 and modified the words on track 9, "What Wondrous Love." 

"I took the melody of the original and wrote new words to make it into a story song of the prodigal son..." says Adkins. "Abbeville (track 3) was pulled from the Sacred Harp hymnbook, which I don't know if you're familiar with sacred harp singing, it's this old tradition of singing without instruments, and the music is written out with shape-notes"   

Adkins presents here a wonderful offering, obviously an outward expression of his soul. Its beauty is so inspiring it almost captured this old Deist in its grip. I had to share it with you. But beware it might just transport you into a magic world where you're happy all the time and surrounded by friends. And don't be surprised when some bearded man, shrouded in grace sits beside you and offers you a cup of wine.  Thanks Wilder.      


Also performing on the album:

  • Nicole MacLean (Piano-track 2)
  • Brent Kendrick (drums-track 10)

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