Imagine a collection of songs with strong pop hooks that have their roots - in equal measure - in The Beatles, Whiskeytown and Son Volt and you'll have some idea of what this really classy set from Georgia's Adam Klein sounds like. OK, it's difficult, I know, but it's all there on this album; there's plenty of country colouring in the instrumentation but there's also an unmistakeable jaunty, self-confident pop air incredibly reminiscent of mid-60s Beatles. A large proportion of the songs are so cheerfully uplifting that I can imagine them on the soundtrack of one of those bittersweet comedies where things pan out alright in the end.
Many of the lyrics seem to deal with unrequited love or relationships where we can't be sure yet that things really will work out fine and this material suits Adam's light, yearning voice nicely. He sounds sweet-natured and straightforward, so that when he sings about how much he loves his home in "sweet ol' Georgia" you just know that he's utterly sincere. My favourite track, in fact, is the album opener, 'Driftin' '( another contender for a film soundtrack) which celebrates the joys of being in love with a girl and with life in the "lazy southern summertime". It captures beautifully the notion of having a song in your heart, has a great warm bath of an arrangement and sets the mood perfectly for the album as a whole.
There's something nicely old fashioned about a lot of this album which I can't quite pin down; maybe it seems that Adam's world is young and new and full of optimism, even when he's a little heartbroken. Occasionally there's just a hint of Gram Parsons in Adam's vocals and maybe Gram had those qualities, too. The production is wonderful: enormous care has gone into realising each of these songs. A J Adams is the man responsible and he also played a whole lot of guitar, bass and, most importantly, pedal steel. Me, I'm nearly always a sucker for pedal steel and there's some really good playing, especially on the slightly oddball Of Pirates And Vagabonds, a whimsical tale of piracy and tragic love; here, the pedal steel builds an atmosphere of melodramatic bleakness - more like Richmond Fontaine than Son Volt, I would say and quite marvelous. All in all, Wounded Electric Youth is music of warmth and character, a gentle treat for ravaged souls.
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