Wilder Adkins
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Wilder Adkins

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Folk Acoustic




"Wilder Adkins - Album Review"

There’s something uncommonly illuminating about Wilder Adkins’ latest offering, the descriptively titled Hope & Sorrow. It comes across in his ambiance and imagery, his breathless delivery and a sound that sometimes seems to defy gravity by virtue of its lilt and grace. By turns haunting, spectral, tender and tenacious, Adkins is a master when it comes to conveying uncommon emotion, relaying on minimal arrangements that sometimes seem suspended in the ether. A song like “Bright & Beautiful” floats along on a clanging tempo, but the ethereal atmosphere still lingers at its core. “Cherry Blossoms” takes a more traditional tack, courtesy of a solitary strum. Yet even the loping title track conveys that hint of longing and remorse, elements that seem inescapable as far as Adkins’ additives are concerned.

Strangely enough, that apparent sense of melancholia never serves to stifle the sound. While comparisons to forlorn folkies like Nick Drake and Bruce Cockburn seem obvious, Adkins refuses to remain an arm’s length apart, a troubled troubadour who still finds a ready connection and an unlikely if effortless appeal. The cause of Adkins’ dismay is less apparent, but his is a hypnotic allure that makes that tenuous stance all the more engaging. Indeed, on the country-ish ramble, “When I’m Married,” he emulates some Dylan-esque designs, a kind of folk noir with a simple, homespun theme. “There will be no magic words,” he intones. “I am yours and you are mine.” Glorious indeed.

-Lee Zimmerman - Elmore Magazine

"Wilder Adkins - Hope & Sorrow"

So often a personal thing, one man's favourite singer/songwriter is another man's dirge-ridden, depressing cliché, but I bet we all have them lurking somewhere in our collection, those songs that seem to speak directly to us and our emotions. Well, for me this one hits the spot beautifully, the music delicate and gently flowing whilst the lyrics are suitably, wistful, melancholic with hope and sorrow in equal measure.

Opening with a soft falling of guitar notes that could grace a John Martyn album, “Dreamer” sets the tone, gently strummed guitar, bass and percussion all topped with a voice that is sweet and vulnerable, Wilder displaying some assured guitar flourishes throughout this and every other tune on the album. Tantalising and breathless, “Gentle Woman” floats on a delightful guitar pattern and sparse percussion, some lovely harmony vocals and aching strings adding plenty of emotion and depth to the tune.

Sounding more like a slice of mellow Americana, “Bright and Beautiful” rocks out in a laid back way before “Cherry Blossoms” takes on a country flavour, sweet and sour and very tasty. Quite possibly the finest tune on the collection, the title track is just wonderful, the vocal harmonies dissolving like tears around the soft melodies and sparkling guitar, the voice having a slight Banhart twang, the whole a tribute to the writer.

Over twelve songs this album barely puts a foot wrong with “When I Am Married” being a delightful, but realistic, love song, whilst “Our Love Is A garden” has droning strings at its heart, another song that offers a glimmer of hope and is all the better for it. Finally, “Wrestle” bring it all home with a distorted electric guitar, the song possessing a lo-fi charm to it, a beautiful tune with interesting percussive patterns and a hook to die for.

A personal thing maybe, but it is hard to ignore the quality of this album nor its emotional pull, file under “warm nostalgic favourite” and enjoy. (Simon Lewis) - Terrascope

"Wilder Adkins’ Hope and Sorrow: A beautiful, can’t-miss folk record"

Wilder Adkins‘ Hope and Sorrow is a beautiful record. The Birmingham-by-way-of-metro-Atlanta singer/songwriter has created an impeccable, gorgeous modern folk record that shows off the value of maturity. It’s the sort of record that stretches the limits of my writing ability, making me want to write simply: “Just go listen to this record. You won’t regret it.”

Adkins has been plying the folk trade for a long time; his discography stretches back to 2009. As a result, Hope and Sorrow is a record that avoids the pitfalls of young artists’ work. Adkins is a patient songwriter, knowing exactly when to include a new instrument, bulk up an arrangement, deliver a word, or hold his silence. The tunes here are measured, careful, and well-edited. Instead of making them boring (as our culture of now might assume), this makes them riveting. There is nothing wasted here: no songs are throwaway, no performance is wallpaper, no lyrics should have been left on the cutting-room floor. To repeat: this album is riveting.

Adkins’ skill is in the delicate, tender folk tune; he expertly lays down gentle fingerpicking with arrangements that don’t drag down the lightness of the foundation notes. His voice is perfectly suited to this work: he has a lithe, evocative tenor that is confident without being brash. It’s not whisperfolk; Adkins can sing. But it’s beautifully suited, melodically and volume-wise, to the songs surrounding it. You can see his vocal deftness in the one-two punch of “Mecca” and “When I’m Married.” The first is a thoughtful, reverent religious discussion, and the second is a beautiful, realistic love song; both vocal performances underscore the lyrics and the mood of the song.

Those twin lyrical themes of romance and religion appear throughout the record; the balance between the two topics keeps the record moving along just as well as the engaging songwiting does. The aforementioned tunes are the highlight on both fronts. “Our Love is a Garden,” “Gentle Woman,” and “Cherry Blossoms” are also beautiful love songs; the title track and “Wrestle” hold down the other front well. But those two topics aren’t the only things on the record, as Hope and Sorrow is a full 12 tracks. It’s a testament to Adkins’ expertise that this record never feels weighty or bulky–it’s long, but it’s the best sort of long. I wanted it to be this long.

Hope and Sorrow is a remarkable record; it’s the sort of record that I keep coming back to over and over. It perfectly blends songwriting, arrangement, lyrics, and vocal performances into a can’t-miss release. This is definitely one of the best albums of the year so far, and one that anyone who loves folk music (Barr Brothers, Josh Garrels, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Iron & Wine, especially) should seek out right now. - Independent Clauses

"Children of the Unraveling"

As we find ourselves careening into a dystopian presidential election, with an immense desire to understand the forces at work that are driving the unpredictability of what’s unfolding, I had the good fortune to see a new music video release “Our Love is a Garden” from a new album Hope & Sorrow by Wilder Adkins. Directed by Marcus Tortorici and edited by a colleague, Heather Danosky, I was struck by the perspective these three millennials shared in their collaboration and it gave me a glimpse into the attitudes that may be driving this rising social and political force around the country. It's a beautiful song and the video is an exceptional visualization, suffused with an aura of the incomprehensible swirling around us. Wilder's song is about the garden, in a biblical sense, but Tortorici tells us the visual story of a pair of lovers who come to this “garden” without the experience of innocence, while the lyrics speak an older language of love's fragile nature, and how difficult it is to travel together through the landscape of union and life.

Something about the song and the visuals made me ask them how they felt about the world around them, what they see in the news, in the forces and velocity of what's being released upon us. Heather stated very simply that she was terrified, and had no idea where her life’s trajectory would take her. Marcus shared the feeling of how hard it is to connect with people because there’s such a pervasive attitude of protectiveness and caution. It felt to him like people withhold their real or vulnerable selves and are disconnected from the very idea of it. Wilder told me he keeps the tools of his craft small and close at hand so he doesn't need much in the way of resources to express himself. All three of them shared a similar sense of mistrust and confusion as to where all of these chaotically unfolding events would take them. Although all three are at the point where their creative energies are propelling them into the lives they’re meant to have, they talked about not being able to see around the next corner. They expressed difficulty in having expectations about the future. The more they explained the feelings that lead them to the music and the visual interpretation, the more I was struck by how familiar this emotional landscape seemed. I was staring into an experience I’ve seen from a different perspective and I recognized the face of my son, of this age, which instantly propelled me into his life.

Born at the dawn of the internet, growing up in Los Angeles, at first in a gentle life. He had neighborhood friends, bikes and skateboards, accented by video games, swimming parties, roller coasters, and birthday parties. One afternoon the city erupted in flames from the immense injustice of the Rodney King verdict and the '92 riots unfolded. We lived close enough to be inundated in the smoke and sirens and we watched the steady stream of images from inside our home, unsettling and traumatic. Then early one morning the house began to shake so hard it felt as though it was ripping apart and the ceiling of our bedroom opened up to a dark sky while our house filled with dust. It was a long time before the shaking faded into his memories while the weave of his family was pulled loose in divorce.

Before long the house, the pool, and the neighborhood were gone and his life in Brooklyn began. Then the World Trade Center Towers came down, 20 blocks from his school. A door opened in his bedroom, with the beginnings of social media and YouTube. No longer were images of change and upheaval witnessed in the newspaper or on the family TV, he discovered them in the dark, often alone, as we invaded Iraq and the deluge of destruction poured in. During his college years, he began to see my life change. The film editing company I created deteriorated with incredible speed when the recession took hold. There was a brilliant flash of hope as Barack Obama was elected President, but the unraveling continued. He made his way home from school as we moved from our house. My company closed. We moved again, and again until finally there was no more room for him. I pushed him out as he transformed into his adult self and the world he entered was not one of promise and potential, but shaped by limitations and scarcity with hope in short supply.

He is a cautious and wary young man, creative and soft spoken. He can erupt in joy and laughter but it’s always tempered. There’s little room for reckless abandon in a world of frequent change and unexpected loss. These children of ours having grown up in a hyper internet connected world have seen and experienced so much more than I did. They possess the tentative sensibilities of those who have experienced first hand, this unstable, dramatically changing world from the wide eyed vantage point of a child.

Suddenly the notion of an experienced and wizened veteran senator instead of youthful vigor as the embodiment of their vision for potential and hope doesn't seem as incongruous as it did prior to the simple act of listening to their song and watching their video. This vision of the garden in absence of innocence conjured for me a series of dark, complex and difficult memories but didn’t leave me despairing. They took the dreams and recollections of their experiences and transformed them into something quite beautiful. Although we have delivered our adult children of the unraveling onto an unexplored precipice, they still have the capacity to find and feel love. It will be interesting to see what they weave out of it.
For me, that means all is not lost. - Huffington Post


Nightblooms - 2009
Oak and Apple - 2011

Nativity - 2009
Live at Eddie's Attic - 2011
Runaround - 2013

Dreamer - 2012



Wilder Adkins’ songwriting gleans as much from the earthy poetry of Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver as it does from the works of folk luminaries Richard Thompson and Bruce Cockburn. He’s a true theosophical spirit, arrestingly taciturn, but possessed of startling guitar skills, a wit as dry as October leaves, and a tremulous, dented voice that’s frankly mesmerizing. His courtly-but-witty lyrics evoke a Deep South Shelley or Yeats, riding a joyful guitar dexterity. Adkins hails from Marietta, GA, but now lives and writes in Birmingham, AL. He grew up listening to his dad play renditions of Neil Young and Van Morrison songs on an old Guild Jumbo Acoustic. Some time spent in India helped to expand his melodic sense and also provided a chance to learn Hindi. Adkins’ songs, steeped in natural imagery, frequently touch upon the subjects of faith, doubt, and as the title of his new album would indicate, hope and sorrow.  

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