Torey Adler

Torey Adler

BandFolkAcoustic

"His sound has roots in old blues, folk and early rock, with a real American sound that smacks of urban grit, dusty back roads, adventure and heartbreak." -Sarah Craig, Caffe Lena

Biography

Torey Adler is a guitar-picking wordsmith and a builder of well-crafted, hardwearing songs. He might be young, but he sounds as though he learned to play in the rural South of the '30s, then came of age in the halcyon days of New York City punk.

On this icy winter day in Massachusetts farm country, the dash of his pickup truck is cluttered with CDs of Woody Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, Otis Redding, and Skip James. The Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed is playing, loudly, as he downshifts hard into a turn. He is talking about the term "folk-music". "Everything is folk music that folks can play" he says, grinning. "Rock, Adult Contemporary, (he puts an emphasis on the industry term that suggests disdain) pop, country, it's all folk. But I understand what the audience means when they use the term 'folk' and it's different from what a scholar means. In the clubs, my music is folk because I play an acoustic guitar. In my mind I sing modern literature with traditional sounding chords."

Whatever it is, audiences are starting to respond. At tonight's concert they start to sing along with "This Land is Your Land", a song he introduces as "Our real national anthem". A woman in the crowd confides to me later that she has to consider Bruce Springsteen in a new light after hearing "Thunder Road" broken down over sparse ukulele accompaniment. But every request during the show calls for one of Torey's own songs, more remarkable for the fact that most of them are not yet released. His guitar ranges from soft and haunting finger-style airs to driving, punkish romps. His lyrics tell stories, capture stills of urban drama. Torey paints a tableau of the American landscape; highways and depots, cars and trains, of bedeviled loners and innocent girls always moving and always wanting.

Rarely does an artist emerge on the scene with a voice so completely his own who so clearly belongs to a deep folklore. There is tradition behind his words, but you’ve never heard it like this before.

Lyrics

Now You're Mine

Written By: Torey Adler

The train is silver as the belly of a fish
wheels so gentle on the track
here alone in this empty station
I knew that you’d be back
I always knew that you'd be back

I used to live in New York city
the sky was the color of a bruise
used to hang out down at Lester’s
while the jukebox played the blues
somehow all of that just slipped away
now there’s a discount store where Lester’s used to be
outside the street is black with oil
I remember you walking down that street with me

The train is silver as the belly of a fish
wheels so gentle on the track
here alone in this empty station
I knew that you’d be back
I always knew that you'd be back

It looks like spring is finally here
winter sure was rough
looks like we’re in the clear
and it couldn’t have come soon enough
It’s been a long , long night
Now the sun is gonna shine
I have been alone forever
Now you’re mine

The train is silver as the belly of a fish
wheels so gentle on the line
I have been alone forever
And now you're mine
Now you're mine

Heaven

Written By: Torey Adler

Some years ago I killed a man
I see him standing sometimes right in front of me
I've seen the face of god and I've seen hell
nothing works as well as the whisky
to burn the memories

from the churches to the dance halls
to the stone faces of prison walls
I carry these chains of my own making
I can't go on and I can't stay here
nothing is clear
in the darkness I hear something breaking

I could write the saddest lines tonight that you ever heard
every word falling like a stone
crazy fingers play spider games on my guitar
the devil in my soul comes out bar by bar
I have come and gone
from places you won't go
there aint no heaven for me no more
there aint no heaven for me

Sitting here wondering 'bout the bridges I've burned
all the lessons I've learned have served me to no end
one day you feel and the next you're numb
speak words that are real and true
and wait till the answers come

all the people are shining stars on the boulevards and in the alley bars
I'm living in a house of cards of my own dealing
I can't go on and I can't stay here
nothing is clear
and there is no dream of healing

I could write the saddest lines tonight that you ever heard
every word falling like a stone
crazy fingers play spider games on my guitar
the devil in my soul comes out bar by bar
I have come and gone
from places you won't go
there aint no heaven for me no more
there aint no heaven for me

Run Away

Written By: Torey Adler

Last night I got a phone call
the phone jumped right off the wall
I heard your voice saying you'd had a revelation
let me tell you what I heard you say
you said, "why don't you and I just run away?"
I did not hesitate to accept your invitation
you said, "let's go to Singapore or maybe Bangladesh"
I said it don't matter to me which we pick as our destination
we'll be inseparable, life will be wonderful
we'll drift off like morning fog
we'll skip the celebration

And everybody will say, "where the hell did they go?
they were here a minute ago", but we'll be flying
we'll high-tail it out of here and when we're far enough away and there's nobody near
I'll be yours and you'll be mine
now it ain't no fun to stay, not even for a day
let's run away, let's run away

Now I know I was just dreaming
and dreams have no meaning
you've got things to do and I've got things to do
and life ain't no vacation
woke up in a cold light
just another empty night
dreams burn off like that fog
I'm left with my imagination

And everybody will say, "where the hell did they go?
they were here a minute ago", but we'll be flying
we'll high-tail it out of here and when we're far enough away and there's nobody near
I'll be yours and you'll be mine
now it ain't no fun to stay, not even for a day
let's run away, let's run away

Now I'm wide awake and I know I'm not dreaming
I'm waiting for that phone
I've got a feeling
that I'm really all alone
well, that's alright, that's OK that don't mean a thing
but it's late at night and it's quiet outside and I know I would hear that telephone if it would ring
Let's run away, let's run away

Discography

The Puppet King - 2007
Earthed - 2003

Set List

I can play as long as is called for in a venue. I will play mostly original songs with some more familiar ones mixed in. I'll usually play some Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger, maybe some Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, covers of obscure songwriters.