Folk, Indie-folk, pop, soul and even some pretty heavy rock – all of those sounds could be used to describe Nashville singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Adkins. He’s shared bills with artists ranging from indie rockers Cage the Elephant to country hitmakers Little Big Town and the late outlaw country poet, Billy Joe Shaver and was a founding member of Nashville psychedelic blues rockers, Mellow Down Easy. He just released his first solo record since 2017’s To Become Immortal Then Die. Today in Liner Notes we’ll get into the new album, The Echoist.
AnaLee: Congratulations on the release of The Echoist. I hear what sounds like influences from Motown to the Rolling Stones and heavier more modern rock like on the newest single, “Mostly Ouroboros”. I’m interested in learning a little more about you, your musical upbringing and the path that led you to this collection of songs.
Andrew: I have always had a love for most genres and styles of music. When I was born, my mother said I was immediately obsessed with Elvis Presley and would often react to music while she was pregnant with me. My parents were always playing classic country music, so all of that is engrained in me. I love all the old stuff - Hank, Waylon, Cash, Merle. As a teen, I was into a lot of harder music - rock, punk, metal. Then I discovered Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. I used to go spend weekends at my cousin’s house and they would play me their old records - Zepp, Beatles, Bowie, XTC, so much great music! That opened me up to so much! I discovered Beck, 90’s Hip Hop, Velvet Underground, Townes Van Zandt as I grew older. So, when I create music it’s all reflective of what mood I’m in at the time. I don’t hear music in genres. I hear music in shades, moods, and feelings. That is probably why my songs don’t necessarily fit neatly into boxes.
AnaLee: You released the first single from the album back in September, “Vagabond Shoes” was inspired by the Nashville tornado in March. It seems like you barely had time to finish writing about the tornado when Covid hit. Tell us about this song, recording it at home during the early days of the pandemic and the video.
Andrew: The funny thing about this new album, I actually finished it back in January. March was such a blow to my local community and neighborhood, here in East Nashville with the tornado and the pandemic. They were like, two weeks apart! April came along and I find myself sitting alone in my house and, like everyone else, I ended up with all of the free time! I write a lot with the TV on mute in the background. I keep seeing all these images - the George Floyd-thing, the Black Live Matters movement, maps of the globe with so much red, watching the Covid cases and numbers grow, the protests, and all that! Naturally, I started writing, and “Vagabond Shoes” just falls into my lap! A couple of months later, I rearranged my album and felt that I had to revise the record and include the song as a testament to the time we are living in.
AnaLee: You wrote “Save The Day” over a year ago, before the protests that arose following the killing of George Floyd, before the pandemic and before the political climate ramped up to its current state. I don’t know if there was one particular event that inspired you then, but the song sure fits these days - most everyone could use a hero right about now. Talk a little about this song and the video.
Andrew: Much like “Vagabond Shoes”, I felt compelled to add this to the album as a document of the current state of the world, especially in America and especially with the election coming up. The music was around for a while and some of the lyrics. Seeing how heated and in some ways, volatile the political front was unfolding, I was so motivated to speak my part. I felt even more witnessing the BLM movement, protests, the blatant downplay of Global Warming by our government, I just needed to make sure if I was going to say something, I would say it now and make sure I presented it before our presidential election. The video came about to help portray the dire plea of the song! I had several friends from all over the world send me footage and help contribute to this. It’s been such a heavy year and I wanted to capture that feeling the best I could within the song and video. I’m really proud of how they both came out and that people are responding so positively towards both mediums!
AnaLee: Thanks for filling us in on The Echoist, Andrew! Artists have really had to get creative with release plans for new music this year! Do you have any live streams, special vinyl or anything else you want to tell us about?
Andrew: Thank you so much! Much like most of my peers, I don’t know what the future looks like within the shadow of Covid. I am coming upon a year of not playing a show, releasing a new album with no tour dates in the books, looks completely strange! I am going to play it by ear and see! I am about ¾ finished with my next album so, maybe that will see the light in 2021. Above all, I am hopeful about all of us - that 2021 will start positive and moving forward, it will be a much safer world to live in!
Andrew Adkins, “Save The Day”
Andrew Adkins, “Vagabond Shoes”
Ana Lee is on middays at WMOT, and is also the host of The Local Brew Hour, which airs Sundays at 7am and Mondays at 7pm on 89.5 WMOT and wmot.org.