Adam Klein

Adam Klein

 Athens, Georgia, USA
BandAmericanaFolk

“Adam Klein is a singer/songwriter with a rural sound (dig that Harvest-era pedal steel!) and a Dylan/Earle sense of poetic lyricism”- Connect Savannah

"Recalling Paul Simon but imbued with the wide eyed spirit of Neil Young”- Americana UK

"Calls to mind Memphis soul, Elvis Presley, great songwriters like Steve Forbert and Willie Nile, and good old-fashioned American folk"- Michael Verity, Americana Minute

Biography

After five albums touching on everything from rustic country to folk, Americana to West African Mande music, Georgia’s Adam Klein remains a songwriter in pursuit- both within and without- of songs and stories, working to fashion tales from and of the wide world. And he’s got a lot of catching up to do. “I seem to be on a two-year plan,” he notes, getting a record out every other year or so. “That’s a fairly slow clip that doesn’t keep up with my writing. I’m sitting on four collections of songs which are basically written and unrecorded.” The prolific Klein chips away at his trove of unreleased material with his newest, and most powerful, raw, and rocking album to date, Archer’s Arrow.

The story begins around 2010, when Klein’s Cowboy Angel Music label released a record by Athens’ pop-rock outfit Nutria’s record. The trade-off was that Nutria would back Klein on an album. By the time they convened to record in drummer Jason Eshelman’s basement studio in the fall of 2011, Nutria had undergone a change of personnel, and Klein brought songs written across continents- in Mali, India, at home in Athens, Georgia- and over the span of a decade.

In three or four sessions, Klein gathered with the remnants of Nutria- Eshelman, Andy Pope (bass), and David Weiglein (electric guitar)- and made short order of recording the songs. The approach was simple and loose- Klein played a song for the band, they ran through it two or three times, and hit record. Typically using the first or second take, Eshelman made quick mixes of the tracks and Klein was out the door with the basics of an album.

Though he heard the makings of a strong album, Klein knew it could sound even better with careful sonic attention. So it sat for nearly three years, an unfinished yet promising project. In the meantime, Klein recorded and released Sky Blue DeVille to great acclaim with a rotating cast of players in his band, The Wild Fires. Finally, in 2014, engineer, producer, and former Wild Fires drummer Bronson Tew returned to Athens to revisit and fine tune Archer’s Arrow.

Tew later brought the songs to Dial Back Sound studio in Water Valley, MS, and further built the tracks. Under Tew’s skillful hands, the collection achieved its warm and layered sonic state. Tew added electric guitar and built three of the songs (“Boybutante Dreams” and closing tracks “Wild Goose Chase” and “Heartbreak Airplane”) along with Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition’s Stuart Cole (bass) and Eric Carlton (organ, piano). The result of the cross-state collaboration bridging Athens’ finest purveyors of pop-rock and the tasteful stylings from the Delta in the service of Klein’s folk rock material is the singer/songwriter’s best sounding record.

Archer’s Arrow is a lush, textured collection with thick guitars in the vein of Neil Young with Crazy Horse (compliments of Weiglein and later Tew), organ and pleasing piano, and a steadfast rhythm section balanced by Klein’s signature warm and engaging voice. Some tracks are firmly folk rock in nature and others mark the Americana-leaning troubadour’s assured and welcomed foray into rock n roll.

Here the songs take on a darker lyrical edge, from the taking-stock opener “Song for a New Year” to the blazing end-of-love jam “Burnin’ Love”. And there’s lightness and just plain fun: “Radar Man” is a reworked poem Klein’s grandfather wrote whiling away the time as a radar repair technician in Philippines during World War II, “Boybutante Dreams” imagines the inner turmoil of a man transitioning to being a woman, and “Say You Don’t Love Me” (with what Klein considered a throwaway lyric) is a pop gem too fun to dismiss. It’s fitting for Klein to give a nod to one of his favorite songwriters, Neil Young, on the record, covering the slightly obscure track “Bad Fog of Loneliness”.

Klein’s quiver is full of stories untold and songs unsung. With Archer’s Arrow, he reaches back and sends out an exhilarating musical shot, straight and true, a folk-rock n roll bullseye.

***

Klein’s music has garnered attention from Paste, No Depression, American Songwriter, Georgia Music, Sing Out!, Flagpole, Stomp & Stammer, and Maverick Magazines, as well as on numerous Americana blogs worldwide. Klein has performed throughout the U.S. and toured in the UK, Ireland, and The Netherlands. He has performed at Folk Alliance, AthFest, Atlanta's Dogwood, Chomp & Stomp, and Summer Shade Festivals, and has shared the stage with a diverse range of acts including Josh Ritter, Kevn Kinney, Shovels & Rope, Robert Ellis, Shawn Mullins, Okkervil River, Steep Canyon Rangers, Joe Pug, and more. 

Klein runs his Cowboy Angel Music label and co-founded and organizes the Athens Americana Music Festival. He performs band shows with The Wild Fires, as a duo (with electric guitar, pedal steel, or fiddle) or solo.

Lyrics

Visions of Faith

Written By: Adam Klein

Upon a shady grove beside a rolling stream/
The birds glide by and search for prey below/
Amidst the rolling hills and the snow-capped mountain peaks/
The sun shines down where people never go/

This orange earth it glows, giant ball of fire/
Sun rises in the west and falls in the east/
Quiet room of candles in the darkness sings the choir/
A soul comes forth to tame the wild beast/

Where west is not the answer alone I hear the call/
And somewhere I know the forests grow lush and green/
Where it's neither night nor day but just one way for us all/
Damn the wages and computer screens/

This train it must go somewhere, lonesome western tracks/
Ribbons of steel across the great outback/
At the bottom of the world and I can see your face/
And it rolls and rolls and takes me to a place/

Where I can love, love, love/
And you are mine, mine, mine/
I can love, I can love, I can love you now/
Now you're mine, mine, mine

They say love conquers all, guess they never knew me/
Where the branches of the trees reach down from the sky/
Where the galaxies explode and the stars come crashing into the sea/
When people learn another word than 'I'/

Belief- it doesn't matter, everything is real/
In a world where blood is blood and wine is wine/
The mind can be the devil so honor how you feel/
The mighty iron horse rolls across sands of time/

And I can love, love, love/
And you are mine, mine, mine/
I can love, I can love, I can love you now/
Now you're mine, mine, mine

Lonesome and Aching

Written By: Adam Klein

There's a place that I know so well/
Where the wildflowers grow in a vale/
And the sunshine is gold on the morning dew/
And I'm lonesome and aching for you/

I see sparrows above gliding by/
And the wind whispers soft lullabies/
While my bleeding heart breaks in two/
And I'm lonesome and aching for you/

In the nighttime I lay by this stone/
For the dust of your earth is my home/
And the stars shine like jewels the whole night through/
And I'm lonesome and aching for you/

There's a tale of a forsaken man/
Who finds solace in another's hand/
But I shall stay by your side tried bu true/
And I'm lonesome and aching for you

Dead Cow Hill

Written By: Adam Klein

Ain’t gonna make it to Dead Cow Hill/ your race is nearly run
Law’s on the trail & they’re hunting you still/ best pack a loaded gun

High plains of Tupiza up on a mule/ dry sands and tumbleweed blow
Just two lonesome outlaws with coca for fuel/ brings back a Utah home

Rode into town on a hot dusty day/ walked out with a million pesos
Wanted rough riders from west USA/ your wildfires can’t keep you low

Strike on the payroll in a rocky ravine on the lam from Aramayo
Swore it to your baby one more & you’d come clean/ bed down in San Vicente pueblo

*And the sun comes up silent/ nothing for to shine
Your kiss is so violent, your lips fighting mine
Shake the federales on the cordilerra range
I can hear ya calling/ but darling I’m too far gone to change

Beers and sardines and you’re used to the chase/ & the nightfall cuts cold and deep
Dream on a lover far from this place huddle up in you’re alpaca heat

In the night she comes before you leads you to peace her white hands soft as lace
In a warm light she assures you is all that you seek/ on your last stand you are laid to waste

Desolate and forlorn at the end of the line rusted trains and automobiles
Desperados dead without a nickel and a dime whispered name and a .45 steel

There’s a hill resting quiet along a gravel road lovers tryst by the wind-swept graves
Sun dances no longer the stories it’s been told/ by voices that time swept away

*And the sun comes up silent/ nothing for to shine
Your kiss is so violent, your lips fighting mine
Shake the federales on the cordilerra range
I can hear ya calling/ but darling I’m too far gone to change
Darling I’m too far gone to change

Don Fernando

Written By: Adam Klein

Come gather friends a story for to hear/ I will sing before I go
In a valley ‘neath a sky big & clear/ Somewhere south of Mexico

Lived a man workin’ the fields/ Watchin’ sorghum and millet grow
Campesino with a wife and five little kids/ Love and laughter all they know

*You are yet alive/ As your brothers once before
O Fernando/ Soon your cross will be no more

On the fateful morning there was a heavy sun/ In the peaceful, sleepy town
Without a warning they round-up everyone/ And cut all the people down

Fled to the mountains hidin’ out of site/ Gone Escondido for many long moons
Dead were his children dark was his night/ Light of day couldn’t come too soon

*You are yet alive/ As your lovers once before
O Fernando/ Soon your cross will be no more

Lines (carved) in his face & his weary eyes/ Tell a (starvin’) pain no one should bear
Such a beautiful place who can know the disguise/ Spirits in the rain and the mountain air

Same old story ‘bout 500 years/ Since the first conquistador
Rapin’ women bloodshed and tears/ For the crime of being poor

*You are yet alive/ As your companeros once before
O Fernando/ Soon your cross will be no more

You are alive

Naduah

Written By: Adam Klein

Early one day down Texas way by the Navasota bank
It was May of ’38 they say or ’36 I think

The wild game roamed over cracked limestone on the chaparraled plains up high
There out where the seas of grass wave ‘neath the blinding sky

Couple pioneers at Parker’s Fort made a ranch and stockade
Went hunting deer for a morning’s work at the time of the Comanche raid

The raised a warrior’s cry shrieking loud & high, broke inside the gate
And the Elder John & everyone couldn’t hide from their fate

Well they slashed and killed and the hot blood filled all across the dusty sand
Scalped & tore all the guts and gore and ran off w/ Cynthia Ann

*Naduah where have you gone?
Somewhere near the borderlands
Naduah what have you become?
My darling Cynthia Ann

Come a Texas Ranger boys by the name of Jack Hayes
Ridin’ with a Walker .44 from the Mission San Jose

Cold the winter moon did shine on a frontier bleeding red
Over bones & graves the wind did whine & old Jack Hayes did tread

Charging at the red man’s band from his six-shooter they fell
Word spread ‘cross the land John Coffee Hayes was goin’ to hell

Well the Rangers they searched low and high to find Cynthia Ann
From the northern estacado dry way down to the Rio Grande

Report came in that she’d been seen at a council somewhere
Young white girl of seventeen with dirty blonde hair

Said she cried at her name beside Nawkoni
Wife with child she became Naduah the Comanche

*Naduah where have you gone?
Somewhere near the borderlands
Naduah what have you become?
My darling Cynthia Ann

Jesse's Mind

Written By: Adam Klein

Jesse worked in the fields by day plantin' cotton with Annie Mae under the hot Missouri sun/ She fixed him meals sent him off to play washed his hair got the dirt away said he was like her only son/

She's a proud woman and she's mean and tall got a stone face and a mountain jaw and she's busy killing time/ Got a curtain blowing with the window breeze black dress flowin' to her knees hanging in the corner like a vine/

Be still be still Zerelda til that day will come/ There'll be flowers in the coffin you can put that black dress on/

Frank's in the woods behind the farm where Jesse 'bout blew off his arm and the militia men come down/ Water's cold you can see your breath ain't got a whole lotta running left in you paddle that boat without a sound/

The cavalry of the 25th go chasin' all the bushwack secesh down every river and every road/ There's the mill and the Baptist church old man Boggs standing in the lurch there's the bridge and all he knowed/

Be still be still Zerelda til that day will come/ There'll be flowers in the coffin you can put that black dress on/

So go back go back to your tobacco with your gospel plow and your wooden hoe she's a-waitin' for you there/ You're a gentleman all through and through you only do what you gotta do cause in this life there's just one care/

You could live all clean and good but you ain't mean you're misunderstood it's a fight worth many lives/ Can't stop now you always taste the thrill you'd kill to shoot and you shoot to kill and nothing's resting heavy on Jesse's mind

Be still be still Zerelda til that day will come/ There'll be flowers in the coffin you can put that black dress on/ you can put that black dress on

Discography

Archer's Arrow- Cowboy Angel Music 027 (2015)

Sky Blue DeVille- Cowboy Angel Music 025 (2013)

Dugu Wolo- Cowboy Angel Music 015 (2012) 

Wounded Electric Youth- Cowboy Angel Music 011 (2010)

Western Tales & Trails- Cowboy Angel Music 003 (2008)

Distant Music- Cowboy Angel Music 001 (2006)




Set List

Band shows (in no particular order): Sky Blue DeVille, Restless Soul, Nomie Wise, Driftin', To Be a Loner, Jesse's Mind, Griffin's Song, Dakota, Call My Name, Of Pirates & Vagabonds, In a Southern Way, Naduah, Goodnight Nobody, Wayward Son, Tired Afternoon, A Fortune to Give, Diamond, St. Paul, Joni (Corner of a Dark Cafe), Radar Man, Song for a New Year, etc..

Sets: 45 min.- 2+ hours

Duo/solo shows (in no particular order): Sky Blue DeVille, Restless Soul, Black Lung Blues, Jesse's Mind, To Be a Loner, Belly of the Beast, Faithful Brigade, Naduah, River Blues, Of Pirates & Vagabonds, St. Paul, Queen of San Ramon, Tired Afternoon, Goin' Down to Peachtree, Crossin' Texas, Radar Man, Heartbreak Airplane, etc. (45 min. - 2+ hours)