Adam Wakefield has one of those voices that make some people think to themselves: “Lucky dude.” Or maybe a less polite word. His voice is envy-making, for those inclined to be envious. It’s got a velvet blue bottom end, a knife edge somewhere in the middle and rich overtones. It’s got strong shades of Chris Stapleton or Gary Nichols, and indeed Wakefield spent some time singing for the Grammy-winning bluegrass band that gave those guys a platform, the Steeldrivers. It sounds like a voice that must have come as a gift from on high. Not so, says its owner.
“It took me a really long time to get to a point where I was confident in my singing - to not cringe when I heard it played back to me,” Wakefield said in a recent interview for The String, which you can play here in full. “I sounded terrible for a really long time. I’m not one of those innate talent stories. I’m one of those sitting in my basement every day for hours on end stories - singing until I’ve just practiced out all the bad notes.”
So what we hear on Wakefield’s debut solo album Gods & Ghosts is years of hard work sounding a lot like second nature.
Raised in New Hampshire, Adam took piano lessons, teenage band experience and some formal collegiate jazz piano training to Baltimore where he steeled himself managing and booking his own working, touring country rock band. Then it was on to Nashville, where he’s proven himself as a bluegrass singer, a country soul bandleader and a songwriter on a stool.
In 2016, that Wakefield voice carried the singer to the final rounds on Season Ten of The Voice on NBC, where he became the show’s runner-up. Thus he’s one of those “new” Americana artists who’s 37 years old and under no illusions about an easy payoff from fifteen minutes of televised fame, as nice as it was.
“It was a big transition moving from being a Voice guy to being just a regular artist,” he says “In the beginning you play up the Voice thing. But I knew that was going to go away. The next season comes out, and you’re kind of old news. I made that realization and said okay what’s the music I want to make? What’s my best thing? What are my best songs?”
That’s what led to Gods & Ghosts, a varied country soul-meets-Southern rock album with songs, as he says, don’t need much interpretation. It’s self-revealing, truth-telling music. WMOT has been playing “Good As It Gets,” “Breaking Strings” and more. The album has nipped into the Americana Album Chart. Get to know Adam in the audio above.