Last updated on November 20, 2020
The Echoist throws down as a throwback rock classic from multi-instrumentalist Andrew Adkins. Adkins firmly embraces a sound that combines the essence of early Aerosmith blended with The Beatles. Recorded entirely in Adkins’ East Nashville home studio, The Echoist dishes up eight songs with a cohesive, sublime analog retro style.
Adkins, as producer, shapes the listener’s sonic experience. Adkins purposefully chose to record himself at home: though home studios seem the norm these days, the record’s home production happened prior to the age of COVID-19. Adkins manifested this magic with seasoned talent, as he called upon Tim Rogers (pedal steel), Zach Grouch (horns), and Phil Thompson (strings/piano). The results are a beautiful separation of instruments allowing every note to be heard, making the space between each note full of tension.
The deliciously stripped welcome of “Mostly Ouroboros” shines with psychedelic rock flair. It evokes Adkins’ past lives as a founding member of psychedelic, blues-infused, indie rock band Mellow Down Easy and gritty rockers Lions for Real (Werewolf Heart Records). The soul oozing from each beat of “Vagabond Shoes” shows these tracks were sequenced purposefully. Even being unsure of when this song was written, the song’s narrative fits with our pandemic isolation. Isolation, angst, hope, and vast unnamed emotions bleed out in this song. Lyrical contradictions weave the American fabric of this song, revealing this songwriter’s strength in crafting narratives. Certainly, “Vagabond Shoes” has earned its place in my 2020 soundtrack playlist.
“Thunder Perfect Mind” is paced like it wants a place on The Beatles’ Revolution. The cacophonous opening creates auditory vertigo, leading to grit-laced vocals pushed down in guitar-heavy mix. It’s stylistically brilliant, right down to the interference, horns, and sonic disruptions. “Ruination Suite” lightly reinforces the feeling that we have all been living some weird episode of The Twilight Zone this year. Adkins then delivers the almost maniacal “Prince Charming Slit His Throat,” crafting frolicking fun out of cohabitation gone bad. Wicked!
Adkins settles into “Bitter Pills” and its acoustic palette, as his unadorned ideas translate perfectly. Rising in a minimalist crescendo, the songwriter’s angst packs a knockout punch, never trying too hard to make the song’s emotions land squarely on the heart. Heading out of the album, “Hazel Barricade Eyes” seems like the show’s wind down. Heartfelt emotions seem overshadowed, based on the album’s sequencing. Technically beautiful, the hollow feeling I am left with may be exactly what the artist was going for. A little over one month ago we had the opportunity to premiere “Save the Day,” and a few things have changed since: our country has coalesced behind two individuals elected to lead the United States back into its global leadership role. Does that make the message of “Save the Day” any less important? In my mind, Adkins’s song shines a spotlight on areas in our country’s institutions that need attention.
Ultimately, Andrew Adkins’ The Echoist shines as a sonic throwback, rocketing into today’s 2020 soundtrack in style. Catch him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify.–Lisa Whealy