2 Maart 2018,
De dag waar we reeds een hele tijd naar uit hebben gekeken.
DE MAN DEN JAMES STAAT EINDELIJK OP HET PODIA VAN SOUL!
Everything of worth is harmless’, Lucebert once wrote, a poet who seems doomed to survive on that one phrase. When he wrote it, he must have had something like this CD by Adam James Sorensen before his eyes and in his ears. As we are terribly spoiled listeners, it doens’t happen often anymore that we become enchanted from the first notes on and get transported into a completely new universe, one that dates from before the original sin. That’s exactly what happened when we put on ‘Midwest’ for the first time. It is seldom that we hear an LP or CD start off in such a frail, brittle and disarming way. We were moved while listening to ‘Suburban Rock And Roll’, enchanted, bewildered, dismayed. And then ‘Chicago River’ floated by, and ‘With Your Radio On’ (waw!)…and ‘Desperation’: with no great shift or variation in atmosphere this singer-songwriter from Chicago succeeded time and again to tempt, catch and enchant us. ‘Midwest’ is nothing less than balm for the wounded soul.
Neil Young’s country lies close to Chicago, we were just thinking, but here’s not just one weeping willow, it’s a whole forest. The usual diaeresis on his last name (Sörensen or even Sørensen) has long been lost, generations ago, when his forefathers came to the promised land from Scandinavia, probably, but when a young and restless Sorensen left Chicago, he will not have surmised that his coming back, after so many wanderings in his own country and in Europe, would have such an impact on his state of mind. A heart simply never completely deserts its home. That homecoming inspired him to write exactly these songs, that each shed a light on one aspect of this process [to make a complete picture]. Number eight, ‘Shadows In The Snow’, comes along with brushed percussion, with clouds of guitar, bass, violin, cello, as soft as snowflakes, and still the emotion is just right, still Adam James hits the right chord and forces us to look out of the window, in search of snow and chilly sparrows in vain looking for food. And it’s August, by golly!
Alt.folk producer Evan Brubaker is not unknown, to say the least. On the other hand, the guest musicians aren’t familiar names, but apparently have played with respectable artists, the likes of Bill Frisell, Beck, Henry Threadgill and Laura Cantrell. Only Rachel Harrington, singer from Seattle, rings a bell (but, ssst, not too loud, please…) These people frame the tender, nostalgic sounding voice (*) of Adam James so respectfully, delicately and skilfully as possible, temperate, with a keen sense of detail and, as far as one can measure, with complete empathy. Sometimes you’d like to crawl into the speakers to hear every innuendo. ‘Northside’ is the song before last and it seems like Adam James continuously conjures up even better songs, although by then we were blown away (admittedly, in a soft breeze) by ‘People Start Fires’ and ‘Winter Song’ and… actually everything we got to listen to. With every new tune, you want to say: ‘This is the best up ‘til now’. As well in ‘Northside’ as in the closing tune ‘Stranger’ mandolin player Don Stiernberg, apparently a legend in and around Chicago, goes for the crowning moment, the coronation of what can be considered a flawless journey.
For forty seven minutes Adam James Sorensen reconciles the susceptible listener with the tears, the toil and the gnashing of teeth of this earthly life, through ‘Midwest’, bathing in a soothing Sehnsucht (spleen) Some got the Nobel Prize for Peace for far less good reasons.
Antoine Légat (this translation October 25th 2013)
(*) AJ sometimes really sounds like Erik Vandenberge, though this name might say nothing to most… In small circles, he’s rightfully viewed as a genuine, authentic talent. Erik came from lively Rotterdam but now lives modestly in the low countryside near the sea, in Zeeland and makes punky records with Crappy Dog, but before he produced a number of dreamy bucolic songs with minimal means, good stuff indeed.
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