Adam Svec CD-release May 20, 2011 Cause, Minneapolis
On Friday night at Cause, Adam Svec celebrated the release of his third solo full-length album, Weaks in the Waves, with a smart triple-bill featuring Linda Carter (a new band featuring Linnea Mohn, David Osborn, and Ethan Sutton) and A. Wolf and Her Claws (Aby Wolf, Jesse Whitney, Linnea Mohn, and Joey Van Phillips) as openers.[jump]
A. Wolf and Her Claws is a stellar new collaboration borne out of the Cedar's 418 Club Commissions back in January, and in it, we see Wolf exploring new ground as a vocalist. AW&HC is a beat-heavy electronic project, and is a sharp break from the soulful folk of Wolf's 2009 debut Sweet Prudence--but it is a thunderous and exciting new approach for a singer with a voice that practically grows wings and flies straight out of her mouth.
One of the most stunning elements of Svec's music is his magnificent vocal ability. It is a rare artist that can transition his voice from sensitive, scratchy folk-pop tenor (on tracks like the dissatisfied "Belfry") to delicate, upper-registry male soprano (beautifully met on the chorus of "Only a Spirit," which also featured exquisite three-part harmonies). The only thing that's more unexpected than having that big-bodied, room-swallowing voice is that Svec has, as fellow show-goer Kevin Steinman put it, "the balls to use it like that."
Weaks in the Waves as an album is heavier on the pop side than the folk side, but played live, Svec sounds more like the frontman for a slow-burning electric rock band from an alternate universe. He performs that way, too, with a captivating sort of energy that demands attention. His backing band--made up of Ben Rengstorf (accordion), Chris Salter (guitar, lap steel, vocals), Karen Salter (glockenspiel, vocals), Graham O'Brien (percussion, drums), and Casey O'Brien (bass)--knows intuitively where to take the songs. Together, the six on stage built up to heartbreaking crescendos brick by brick, taking them back down with a careful, controlled precision that slayed every musichead in the audience.
As the last note on the final song ended, the demands for an encore were sounded loudly--and Svec complied. As his band filed off the stage, Svec stood solo with his electric guitar and delivered an as-yet-untitled song that sounded something like a river echoing in a canyon, all ghostly and solitary. If impromptu, it was the perfect closing note.
Critic's Bias: I am an Adam Svec fan. Yes. It's true. Big bias. Knew the show would be good. Love the album. Etc. The Crowd: Really decent turnout, and not at random, either--everyone was there to listen. Overheard In The Crowd: "That voice, wow," said a guy with a huge crush on Aby Wolf during the set from AW&HC. "Have you ever had a voice like that?" Random Notebook Dump: You should really, really, really make a solid effort to see Svec live when you can. He delivers a performance you won't forget easily. If nothing else, buy the album--10 bucks you'll be thanking yourself for spending. Set list: