The eighth full-length from singer/songwriter Jason Eady, To The Passage Of Time first took shape in a frenetic burst of creativity back in the doldrums of quarantine. Over the course of a three-day period last August, the Fort Worth, Texas-based musician wrote more than half of the album, locking himself in his bedroom and emerging only when he felt completely burnt out. “I went in thinking I was going to write just one song—but then the songs kept coming, and I didn’t want to break the spell,” he recalls. “I’d go to sleep with the guitar by the bed, pick it back up when I woke up the next morning, and do it all again. I’d never really experienced anything like that before.”
Adam Lee’s first solo release, 'Sincerely, Me', turned traditionalism on its head. In support of the album he performed in the U.S. and Europe and played shows with Dave Alvin, Lucero, and Frank Turner. He also dug deeper into his own roots: from Springsteen and Petty to the indie and punk rock records he grew up on.
Adam previously fronted the scrappy alt-country outfit Adam Lee & the Dead Horse Sound Company. Their time was spent in the remaining American honky tonks, time which eventually paid off: he was nominated for Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Awards and had his songs land in the Kevin Smith films Red State and Tusk. Following these successes, Adam accepted an offer for a leading role in the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet, under the musical direction of Chuck Mead.
Adam Lee's life is movement. As a military kid, Adam called many different places home. His music does the same. ‘Sincerely, Me’ reflects all of this. Roots-rock songwriter Justin Wells sums it up: “Somebody’s gonna file this album under Americana, but that's because Adam Lee isn't a genre...the record nods at several American musics without knowing the meaning of derivative.”
Adam is currently recording the follow-up to his solo debut with producer Duane Lundy (Ringo Starr, Horse Feathers, Joe Pug).
On his last two albums, Jason Eady earned major acclaim for his ahead-of-the-curve take on classic country, a bold departure from his earlier excursions into blues-infused Americana. Now with his sixth album, the Mississippi-bred singer/guitarist merges his distinct sensibilities into a stripped-down, roots-oriented sound that starkly showcases the gritty elegance of his songwriting.
The follow-up to 2014’s critically praised Daylight/Dark—an album that “belongs on a shelf next to Dwight Yoakam’s Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room, Joe Ely’s Letter to Laredo, and yes, even Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages,” according to AllMusic—Eady’s latest finds the Fort Worth, Texas-based artist again teaming up with producer Kevin Welch. Now longtime collaborators (with their past efforts including 2012’s AM Country Heaven, a top 40 debut on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart), Eady and Welch worked closely in crafting the album’s acoustic-driven yet lushly textured aesthetic. “At the beginning I told everyone I wanted to make a record where, if the power went out, we could still sit down and play all the songs the exact same way,” says Eady, who points out that steel guitar is the only electric instrument featured on the album.
Despite its subtle approach, the album radiates a warm vitality that’s got much to do with Eady’s gift for nuanced yet unaffected slice-of-life storytelling. “I’ve always been drawn to writing that’s got a simplicity to it, where you’re digging deep into real day-to-day life,” he notes. Here, that means touching on such matters as turning 40 (on the reflective, soul-stirring “40 Years”), his daughter’s growing up and going off to college (on the sweetly heartbreaking “Not Too Loud”), and the everyday struggle to “embrace the messy parts of life instead of trying to get the point where you’ve somehow fixed all your problems” (on “Rain,” a joyfully determined anthem featuring SteelDrivers fiddler Tammy Rogers). Throughout the album, Eady’s soulfully rugged voice blends in beautiful harmonies with his wife, singer/songwriter Courtney Patton. And on “No Genie in This Bottle,” the legendary Vince Gill lends his singular vocals to what Eady refers to as a “good old country drinking song.”
In each track, Eady reveals a sharp sense of songcraft he’s honed since childhood. “Even back in my early days of getting into music, I always cared more about the writers than the singers,” says Eady, who grew up in Jackson. “I’d look up who’d written a certain song, and then go seek out more songs from that writer.” At age 14—the same year he started writing his own material—Eady began performing in local bars and showing his natural grasp of everything from soul and R&B to blues and country. After some time in the Air Force, he moved to Fort Worth and started playing open mic nights, where he quickly built up a devoted following. By 2005, Eady had made his debut with the independently released From Underneath The Old.
For Eady—who names Merle Haggard, Guy Clark, and Willie Nelson among his main inspirations—instilling each song with so much graceful honesty proved to be his greatest achievement and thrill in creating the new album. “When you first get started making music, your ideas are grandiose and more about the big picture. But the longer I’ve done this, the more I’ve realized that the real joy comes from the process rather than the end goal,” he says. “Now it’s about getting better and finding more of myself with every album. So instead of writing what I think people want to hear, I’m writing what I want to write and trusting that—as long as it’s coming from an honest place—it’ll hopefully mean something to the people listening too.”
A former honky tonk acolyte, Adam Lee’s newest album, 'Sincerely, Me,' turns traditionalism on its head. It’s a varied and engaging collection, criss-crossing genre and influence and bringing to mind artists such as Cory Branan, Justin Townes Earle, or John Moreland.
In support of the release he's spent much of the past year on the road. He completed another European tour and played shows with Dave Alvin, Lucero, and Frank Turner.
Prior to landing in Chicago, Lee fronted Kansas City-based Adam Lee & the Dead Horse Sound Company, a scrappy alt-country outfit with traditionalist leanings. His time in the honky tonks paid off; he was nominated for Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Awards and found homes for his country songs in writer/director Kevin Smith’s Red State and TUSK.
Following these successes, he moved to Chicago after being offered a leading role in the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet, under the musical direction of Chuck Mead. It was at this point he began writing and recording the songs that make up ‘Sincerely, Me,’
All told, ‘Sincerely, Me’ is a strong and diverse debut. Roots-rock songwriter Justin Wells sums up this sentiment. “Somebody’s gonna file this album under Americana, but that's because Adam Lee isn't a genre... it nods at several American musics without knowing the meaning of derivative.”
A departure indeed, but that’s something he’s used to. The son of an Air Force officer, Adam Lee spent much of his youth in transit. Music, however, was a constant, and a childhood spent moving state to state, and sometimes country to country, prepared him for a life traveling on the road. “I grew up saying goodbye,” he says, “and it teaches you to appreciate what’s on the horizon.”
Initially writing folk and alt-country, he fronted Kansas City-based Adam Lee & the Dead Horse Sound Company. Their first album ‘Ghostly Fires’ was released in 2008. The band committed to a more traditional country and western sound for their second album, ‘When the Spirits Move Me’ and logged many miles supporting the 2010 release. Lee’s time in the honky tonks paid off; he was nominated for one of Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Awards and found homes for his country songs in feature films (writer/director Kevin Smith’s Red State and TUSK).
He’d soon found a new home for himself as well — on the Broadway stage. In 2013 he moved to Chicago after being offered a leading role in the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet, under the musical direction of Chuck Mead.
Lee’s wanderlust informed his writing as well, and he soon began crafting songs not tied to a style, but to a feeling. They make up a large portion of the material on ‘Sincerely, Me,’ his first solo album. “I just tried to put the best songs I’d written on the new record, the songs that moved me most, regardless of genre.” In woodshedding the new material he spent much of the past year on the road. He played shows with Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan. He completed his second European tour. He kept writing and soon, he found himself in the open-ended world of Americana.
His mutability is readily apparent throughout ‘Sincerely, Me,’ and he continually plays with genre, style, and influence. ’Sing With Me,’ is a raucous, punk inflected anthem, working to reconcile youthful and rebellious optimism with sobering adult realities. This song leads directly into ‘Patrick’ a fatalistic and tragic tale of two brothers, laid upon a sparse backdrop of Irish-styled fiddle and banjo.
The most country song of the collection, ‘What I Need,’ comes across more tragedy than two step, a deceptively upbeat confessional, uncluttered from all the smoke and neon. Underscored with upright bass and saloon-style piano Lee sings “I’m patient, and I’m thoughtful, and really, really insecure/ but I’ve found ways to make it worse.”
All told, ‘Sincerely, Me’ is a strong and diverse debut, a record reminiscent of a life spent in no one place in particular. Roots-rock songwriter Justin Wells sums up this sentiment. “Somebody’s gonna file this album under Americana, but that's because Adam Lee isn't a genre… it nods at several American musics without knowing the meaning of derivative.” In that context, the album title could be taken a different way. ‘Sincerely, Me’ is Adam Lee at his most honest, his most vulnerable, and ultimately, his most engaged. A restless mind put at ease not by comfort or consistency, but by forward momentum. Adam Lee is heading somewhere, and even if we’re not quite sure of his next stop, we’re happy to come along.