Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Quick hits: Adam Rader

January 31, 2011

Adam Rader sings straight-up pop music. There’s nothing indie about it, nor is there anything punk about it, or anything about it. It’s pop. There’s whistling, a jaunty piano line, peppy drums, a swooping melody and some nice guitar work in “Any Way I Can.” It’s a charming little tune. It does have a little bit of a adult contemporary bent in the chorus, but it’s forgivable, given the B-side here.

Rader’s take on the classic “In the Ghetto” is absolutely pitch-perfect; he nails the tune without getting deadpan or maudlin. Both sides are possible pitfalls – instead, Rader pulls out subtle nuances that I didn’t think existed in the almost comically didactic source material. Piano, unassuming acoustic guitar, gentle pedal steel and a brushed snare shuffle provide an easy canvas for Rader’s soft tenor to paint on. The results are surprising in the best way.

Rader either got super-lucky with “In the Ghetto,” or he’s studied how pop songs work. I’d bank on the latter. Still, judging from his above-average but not jaw-dropping A-side, he’s got some work to do before he writes his own iconic tunes. He’s definitely on his way, though.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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