Arkansas-bred singer/songwriter Adam Faucett kicks off his brand new fourth album, “Blind Water Finds Blind Water,” with little more than a delicate progression of subtly-picked guitar chords and the booming thunder of his monster voice.
It’s not until roughly the two-minute mark that the drums and bass discreetly crash in on the opening track, “Day Drinker,” a dark, soulful lament about a lonely boozer who implores the bartender to “put on that jukebox and pour me something cheap” before confessing “she only calls me baby cuz she knows she’s getting paid.”
The lyrics read like a blunt confessional, perhaps an autobiographical account of Faucett’s past or even present routine. But if he was holding up one end of a pub’s counter for hours at a time, it seems far-fetched that he’d have the resolve to compose such discernible verse.
It’s possible this merely is the crowning achievement of an artist who can sound pained and celebratory, tender and gritty, broken and proud all at once, with vocals that bare a hard-swinging, full-throated howl of precise ferocity that undoubtedly has the power to flat-out explode during his live sets.
You get the sense that he knows what’s been entrusted to him, and he handles it superbly with a mix of raspy fervor and wounded gentleness, imparting an air of trained virtuosity that’s bolstered by a heaping side of raw emotion. Yet his delivery is fluid and free-flowing, almost as if it’s less tied to anything traditional and more rooted in a visceral devotion.
“Hell yeah, man, that’s the job,” says Faucett, who’ll join his crew — the Tall Grass, which includes bassist Jonny D. and drummer Will Boyd — for their performance at Rivermont Pizza this Friday.
“I want to create a sound to where, if you come and see me with an orchestra, you’ll be like, ‘Holy [expletive], he had an orchestra.' But if you come to some dusty-ass bar, and it’s me on a guitar, you’re gonna be like, ‘Well, hell yeah. That’s what those songs sound like.’ It’s so easy to out-produce yourself. You know what I’m saying? That’s a real danger. You want to keep it realistic.”
That genuine conviction surges to the fore of “Blind Water” through a tide of bold melodicism, firmly discouraging the slick design of a mainstream production the one minute while riding the fine line between big, muscular arrangements and classic American rock ‘n’ roll the next.
The disc is front-loaded with slow-burning jams, like the tense, riff-driven “Melanie,” a Middle Eastern-flavored tune that finds Faucett confronting the named seductress with her deceptive habits.
As he reveals in the first refrain, “Melanie, I don’t want to hold hands or get killed by your ex-oldman/I know we used to be friends/But no more.”
Then the singer dabbles in fantasy in the domestic thriller “Sparkman” and flirts with the impulses of a would-be assassin in “Killer on Staten Island.”
He also takes stock of his childhood, reflecting on the “shadow of my young dream” in the plaintive ballad “Benton,” an ode to the small suburb of Little Rock where Faucett had “a Saturday to kill” and wants to “tell you a story, [no] matter if it’s real.”
“Basically, it’s easier to walk away from what you said or thought you were going to do as a kid than it is to try and follow through with some of these big ideas you’d have sitting out with your friends, smoking cigarettes in a gravel pit,” he says. “... I said I was gonna do this, and I love doing it, but the older you get the more your peers are just kind of like, ‘Jeez, man [laughs].’ So it’s about the connection between the young me and the old me.”
Although the 32-year-old musician has been at it since he was a teenager, the style he affectionately coined “southern soul swamp opera” began taking shape in 2007, when he dropped his first album “The Great Basking Shark.” He later released two more studio LPs, 2008’s “Show Me Magic, Show Me Out” and 2011’s “More Like A Temple,” an effort that earned him praise from Paste Magazine the following year for being one of its “12 Arkansas Bands You Should Listen To Now.”
And he still has plenty left to give.
“I definitley see myself being a much older dude, riding around in a van for a much longer time,” Faucett says in his slow, affable drawl. “But I love it. I love it. ... I’m already working on the next record. It’s kind of a never-ending process.”