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Singer-songwriters are known for telling stories in their songs, and Little Rocker Adam Faucett really leans into that method and takes it to the next level on “King Snake”, the mournful opener to his new LP, “It Took the Shape of a Bird”, out today from premiere Little Rock Americana label Last Chance Records. The song starts with a matter-of-fact rundown of early events in a young girl’s life, before soaring into his well-known, impassioned bellow and getting more figurative lyrically. Although told from the point-of-view of a character, since Faucett ostensibly has never been a young girl, it’s obvious that he is using the narrative device of the song to express feelings about his own life, and this is a recurring theme that keeps flowing like the Arkansas River throughout the rest of the record. Lots of characters, yet also lots of personal confessions if you can decipher the beautiful, but sometimes cryptic and dense, lyrics.
If you were already a fan of Faucett’s remarkable catalog, particularly 2014’s “Blind Water Finds Blind Water”, you will not be disappointed in the least with this new release. It was recorded in the same place (Blue Chair Recording Studio) with the same personnel (his backing band, The Tall Grass, and Blue Chair owner Darian
Stribling), but that by no means should indicate that it doesn’t still sound fresh. That’s one of the beautiful things about Adam’s music; he’s not exactly trying to reinvent the wheel, but he still manages to make everyone else that came before and does what he does sound sadly impotent by comparison. These songs cut deep, indicative of wounds that should be fatal but were somehow survived, and the scars look cool enough to get you laid.
If you’ve seen him perform live lately, and chances are you have because the man is a road dog, you’ll probably recognize at least a few of these songs. “Dust”, one of the album’s standouts, has featured heavily in his sets for quite a while now. A solo live recording was even released as a “bootleg” version by Fayetteville label Let’s Talk Figures last year. That performance was amazing, but this polished up, fully realized studio version is better. The Tall Grass is higher than ever, in fine form, filling in what needs to be filled in, and playing airtight. There are even some unexpected keyboard flourishes on this one that make the emotional punch even stronger.
Curious about the meaning behind the title? Well, doing a Google search for the phrase “it took the shape of a bird” won’t really help you, but it will lead you to an assortment of links to purchase and/or stream this record (like this one). Even after reading the lyrics I was stumped, so I finally straight up asked him what it meant. It’s an obscure reference to the Salem Witch Trials. One of the putative witches claimed that Satan came to her and “it took the shape of a bird.” In the context of the album, it makes a lot of sense for this to be the title, as darkness and spiritual matters are constant throughout the record, and this type of vague historical reference is one of Faucett’s specialties. “Mackay-Bennett” is another great example of this. The historical CS Mackay-Bennett was the ship that recovered most of the corpses from the wreck of the Titanic. Despite the title, the song isn’t about the real-life Mackay-Bennett, it’s about an ill-fated relationship where one person is always rescuing the other from something. There’s a great deal of lovelorn sorrow in these songs. It’s a fantastic break-up record.
If you’re in or around central Arkansas this weekend, you should head out to the legendary White Water Tavern Saturday night and celebrate the release of “It Took the Shape of a Bird” with Adam Faucett and the Tall Grass. Adam’s fellow Little Rock performer Isaac Alexander is also playing, and you can stock up on all the best merch, including a copy of the new record. It’s well worth your money and your time. Faucett will naturally be hitting the road hard for the rest of the year to promote it, so help him do so well-funded and take advantage of what might be your last chance to see him for a little while.