Album Review – Adam Lee’s “When The Spirits Move Me”
Adam Lee likes to drink, and then write songs and sing about it with a voice somewhere near the slickness of Dale Watson, that can also limbo down looowww like Junior Brown, all while holding himself like a slightly plumper version of Pokey LaFarge. You may get pulled in the door with the voice, but you will stick around for the songwriting. Though the theme is one (drinking), the witty lines and turns and stories are many, and the quality stays top shelf throughout the album. And words are just words without music, and the music arrangements, instrument selection, and tone throughout this album fits each song amazingly well, and speaks to Adam’s insistence at pulling out all the stops to represent these songs as best as possible, and getting perfection in the performances that must be as slick as his hairdo on the front cover.
This album includes 12 originals. The opening track “Drinking, Cheating, Loving, and Leaving” is just so damn dialed into the classic country mode, it sucks you right into the album, while songs like “When The Spirits Move Me” and “Liquor’s a Prison” work the ol’ country idiom bit quite well, accompanied with instrumentation that speaks to a very well-versed and studied country music ear. A duet with Abigail Henderson called “Wishful Drinking” was another standout track.
The best song by far is “Misery to Ruin”, which catches you completely off guard with it’s more modern feel and universal relevancy and appeal. A knock on an album such as this would be that it’s some sort of a retro gimmick. It’s the difference between Dale Watson and Wayne Hancock, and Lucky Tubb and Junior Brown; one side being guys who try to take old styles of music and move them forward, and the other side guys that try more to re-create the old sound. “Misery to Ruin” transcends all of that. Adam Lee’s voice fits seamlessly with the mode and textures of the music, and it is surprisingly honest and soulful. This song is so good, it makes you wonder why Adam wouldn’t want to knock off the period piece show and kick it modern, but maybe that’s the genius in it. As soon as you think The Dead Horse Sound Company is some easily-definable thing, it hits you from another direction.
I will say that except for “Misery to Ruin”, the album is one that’s more to put on every few months and appreciate for a spin or two, instead of one that gets stuck in your player for long periods. And if you think that ribbon ties and pompadours and retro country is hokey, you probably want to steer clear. But I was really impressed with the songwriting and authentic style, and for you neo-traditionalist, classic country nuts like myself, it will be right down your alley.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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Adam Lee is also heading out on a Midwest tour, including a date with Wayne “The Train” Hancock! Check dates.
Find a preview of the entire album below, but here’s two full length songs for your listening edification:
Drinking, Cheating, Loving, and Leaving
Misery to Ruin
Purchase When The Spirits Move Me
March 2, 2011 @ 10:30 am
My favorite track is Broken Wings.
March 2, 2011 @ 1:03 pm
That’s another good one that catches you off guard.
March 4, 2011 @ 4:53 am
March 5, 2011 @ 12:23 am
I just bought Broken Wings as well… Classic. Thanks for hippin’ me to it’s brilliance. Gonna have to buy this whole album @ some point. Lee seems to have a knack for writing great lyrics.
March 2, 2011 @ 1:27 pm
Definitely like those two songs. And he’s in town next Saturday so I’ll certainly go check him out. Him and Lucky Tubb less than a week from each other, I might have a pompadour by the time all’s said and done.
March 2, 2011 @ 2:20 pm
Burch where r u getting that info on Lucky Tubb’s shows?
March 2, 2011 @ 2:28 pm
There was an article on here with the dates a little while back. There’s also a website with a bunch of dates for him and others, I’m on my phone right now so I can’t easily copy and paste links.
March 2, 2011 @ 2:35 pm
Got it appreciate it. Oh yeah Adam Lee is awesome.
March 2, 2011 @ 5:22 pm
“Drinking, Cheating, Loving, and Leaving”
I really liked it……..good song good sound.
March 2, 2011 @ 5:51 pm
I like it.
March 3, 2011 @ 12:07 am
Thanks for turnin’ me on to this guy. I love what he’s doin’…I don’t know, I think this album WILL end up in heavy rotation in my truck.
March 3, 2011 @ 2:47 am
Love this album! Adam Lee has got a sound and a voice that is destined for great things as well as good strong songwriting.I have to admit that I enjoyed ‘Ghostly Fires’ a bit more, but this is still getting a lot of play at my place… And I don’t even drink anymore!
March 3, 2011 @ 10:39 am
Dig it…didn’t know this guy. I already have the pompadour, but I don’t have this album. I’m gonna need to pick it up!
March 3, 2011 @ 8:00 pm
Just gave it a listen and thought it was pretty damn good. You know me, I’m pretty fond of that old sound, and heavy drinking. Thanks for the review, Trig.
March 3, 2011 @ 8:40 pm
I previewed the album @ Amazon and could definitely see myself gettin’ drunk to this stuff. I bought the track “Misery To Ruin” and have listened to it atleast 20 times today. Excellent, excellent song. Thanks for the review.
March 3, 2011 @ 10:55 pm
Yeah, I feel like we’ll be talking about this song toward the end of the year. When that harmonica comes in it shoots right to your heart.
March 4, 2011 @ 12:24 am
The harmonica really threw me off when i first heard it, didn’t expect it at all, but like the song, as well as every song on the Album.
March 4, 2011 @ 12:31 am
A bit reminiscent of Ryan Adams “Come Pick Me Up”, as-far-as the harmonica solo (to my ears anyhow). Loved the words. I am driving my wife crazy by continually repeating this song… But it’s growing on her!
March 4, 2011 @ 3:47 pm
Oh my god, that cover artwork is legendary. Love it. When I saw your review and that pic I thought it was some album you’d dug out of your ’70s archives. Great sound too. Another one to add to the list.
March 4, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
I know one thing, if I had the extra cash I’d be heading to the Sparrow.
March 5, 2011 @ 2:27 am
speaking of reviews are you going review Tom VandenAvond’s (Uncle Tom) CD “You Oughta Know Me By Now ? I would love to see what you have to say about it.
March 5, 2011 @ 6:18 am
I have the CD here. I may get to it at some point. I’ve listened to it, but didn’t hear a review. Doesn’t mean I don’t like it, just means I didn’t know what to say about it. Generally speaking I’d like to focus more on albums coming out now. I know Adam Lee was from 2010 too, but I haven’t seen nearly the press coverage it deserved. Well see. I could write 3 reviews a day, and I would still be behind and still miss some.
March 5, 2011 @ 7:52 pm
That’s cool man and I understand. I just remember you said you where gonna give it a listen and never heard anything after that.
March 8, 2011 @ 5:34 am
Adam Lee & The Dead Horse Sound Company opened for Wayne Hancock at TOOTLES last saturday, first I’d heard of them but not the last. Thanks for the links.
March 8, 2011 @ 9:34 pm
This is really good stuff. thanks for sharing him.
April 14, 2011 @ 2:57 pm
“I will say that except for “Misery to Ruin”, the album is one that”™s more to put on every few months and appreciate for a spin or two, instead of one that gets stuck in your player for long periods.”
Love the blog dude! But I just had to testify to the fact that since I picked this up (after reading your review, thanks!), this album most certainly has been on repeat. In fact, I’m driving my girl crazy because I play it so often!
Anyhow, thanks for the heads up and thanks for putting so much work into this badass site!
July 24, 2011 @ 1:36 pm
I know this is an old post but I only recently got to make Adam’s aquaintence and pick up this cd. I love the disc for all the reasons a true country fan would, the style, performance and songwriting are excellent! I’m from KC and so not taking away anything from Adam, I did want to mention that one of the reasons this cd is so good is that besides the Dead Horse Sound Company, the guest musicians list on it is a veritable whos who of KC country players! Nate Hoffer is the best pedal steel player in town and Betsie Ellis of Wilders fame is an impeccable performer on the fiddle. Abigail Henderson (Wishful Drinking) has been a force of her own with the Lone Justice style group The Gaslights and is always in demand to perform with local acts either live or in studio. We have a great country/americana scene here. Glad so many were showcased on this cd!