Adjacent Cruise makes quietly empowering music, using soothing acoustic guitar and piano based songs to reaffirm their place in the world. “Keep on knocking, I’m not stopping if my hands bleed” sings Shannon Richardson on “The Doors Will Fly Open” summing up the essential theme of self-actualization found throughout Adjacent Cruise’s debut studio album Light As A Feather, Heavy Like The Sun.
A talented songwriter and instrumentalist from Chicago, Richardson brings a combination of emotionally charged late ’90s alternative balladry and the pop sensibilities of folkies like Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson. Richardson is joined by multi-instrumentalist Yuen Yee Richardson, a classically trained artist who imbues these songs with ornate production elements and a cinematic flair.
A good example of the Richardsons’ harmony is “Wild Birds” a groovy folk ballad that tells the story of new love in the form of a metaphor. The song is mostly in its genre on the production side; however, a notable woodwind intro evokes an eastern flavor before continuing throughout the song, acting in effect as the titular wild bird. This use of theme and music as poetry speaks to a creative collaboration and a reverence for the classical masters.
I would describe Shannon Richardson’s vocal style as an intersection between the soft power and charged growl of Rob Thomas and the the groovy and rhythmic staccato of Jack Johnson. Richardson uses his ability to move between vocal registers as a storytelling tool, affecting a broken sob to really sell the narrative. A facet of his style is found on a majority of tracks here, but listen to the opening track “Woolves” for a prime example of his technique in action: the dark and sardonic verses entering a falsetto which emulates wolves howling, and then in the chorus, Richardson fully projecting on the line “don’t pull the wool over my eyes.” These transitions keep the listener enthralled in Richardson’s story of liberation.
As a long-form debut clocking in at twenty tracks, Light As A Feather, Heavy Like The Sun serves as a great taster. Listeners are likely to find a song or two (or three, etc…) to gravitate towards, whether it be from the lyrical message or the strong melody. The play time of this album may prove to be its blessing and its curse, as the weighty drop may go undigested in its entirety by the public. However, I found it a rewarding listen at full length, although a predictable one in some areas. I would not say that the group sacrifices quality for quantity, as these tracks are all well written and performed; but in fact, Adjacent Cruise may have traded in innovation for a more packed set. In the future, a more condensed and progressive effort would be an exciting next step for a group that has clearly mastered the roots of their genre.
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