Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Vince Adams, an independent singer songwriter from Los Angeles. He’s got a new album entitled ‘Rain or Shine’ slated for worldwide release on Feb. 8. In the meantime, however, let’s spend some time with the tracks that he has released. He’s put out a handful of tunes that do a nice job showcasing the kind of artist listeners can expect on the full album. Let’s dig into that music.
Adams describes his music as a cross between country and rock; he’s not from the South, but he does have a southern flair from South California. I’d argue that while his music does align with both genres, it’s very pop oriented as well. Adams is making the music you’ll hear on Top 10 country radio, which in honesty, isn’t really country music. It’s just electrified Americana pop music with a twang. That isn’t necessarily bad, though, so how does his first single, ‘Red Brick Lipstick’ stand up against its industry counterparts?
‘Red Brick Lipstick’ exhibits a few intriguing things about Vince Adams. Namely, his production is quite exceptional. He’s got a very sharp band, they’re absolutely in step with him, and the entire mix is well organized. No instrumentation feels overpowering, the vocals are mixed at a proper level, and each performance is redeeming in itself. This is an impressive accomplishment worth lauding, because quite honestly, independent music has a penchant for shoddy production and sketchy mastering jobs. If Adams recorded in a studio, it sounds like it, and if he didn’t, it’s even more impressive.
Content wise, ‘Red Brick Lipstick’ is what you’d expect from my aforementioned ‘Top 40 country’ description. It’s infectiously catchy and great to blast at loud volumes and dance to, but it isn’t particularly deep or well written. That said, it doesn’t attempt to be, either. It’s feel-good country rock that understands its place and doesn’t over-extend its hand. Adams’ vocal performance is quite good; he’s got a great rock and roll vibe to him that could serve him well if he leans harder into rock and roll and away from the pop sensibilities.
‘Ain’t It Funny’ feels like a spiritual successor to ‘Red Brick Lipstick,’ aligning closely with that happy-go-lucky pop-ified country sound. I actually think ‘Ain’t It Funny’ is a much better track for a number of reasons. First of all, its chorus hook is absolutely fantastic. It’s still not exceptional writing, but it is good pop writing. There is an art to writing catchy, likable hooks. Seriously, it’s a very difficult thing to do. I’ll definitely give Adams credit where its due in that regard. He can write one hell of a pop song. It's also very well performed and follows a more interesting structure.
‘Drinking About You,’ the final track currently available from Adams online, is probably the most well-penned of the three. It catalogs the frustration we all deal with post-breakup. He does a surprisingly fine job putting those terrible emotions into music. It’s still poppy and jingly, but the subject matter is much more personable than the previous two songs. It’s a very... human song. We’ve all been there.
Vince Adams has incredible potential, and I love where he’s going. Here’s what I would love to see from him, however - some stripped down tracks. He sounds fantastic with that tight backing band. Next, he should take his vocals and some strong lyricism and match them with acoustic instrumentation, perhaps a piano. Every good rock artist should sound just as good, if not better, when stripped of the fanfare. I believe Adams would produce some really compelling content in a setting like that. That said, these three tracks do make a strong argument for checking out that record when it drops Feb 8.