of his most challenging and invigorating works to date,
Adam’s magnum opus Islands engages in a bit of
seriously playful one-upsmanship, daring the listener to
keep up with him as he takes us on a roller coaster ride
through an apparently haphazard collection of themes
that is ultimately revealed to be an intricately balance
construct, bringing order out of chaos just as a
kaleidoscope wrings symmetrical beauty from broken
glass. On a much lighter note (or slew of notes),
Mr. Levin plants tongue firmly in cheek with Fanfare,
a condensed compendium of his most excessive musical
idiosyncrasies. (Islands Lite, maybe?)
That he manages to have so much fun and write such good
music while pointedly bursting his own balloon is a
particularly telling measure of his talent.
the heavy-handed to the heavy-hearted, we move to
House on a Hill. The emotional turmoil churns
in this work of seething complexity, a darkly and
densely beautiful piece. This is followed by the
ever-so-aptly titled Things Left Unsaid.
One of Adam’s most sinuous, sensuous melodies gets a
rich, intimate jazz (a la Levin) treatment here.
And check out the great bass work!
Not Coming Home,
a bright, jazzy song-without-words, crackles with the
peculiar energy of thwarted expectations. Next
Adam lulls us with his delicate ode to self-deception,
Lying in my Sleep, only to issue a defiantly
swinging wake-up call in the form of an excerpt from
Stand Up has
such quiet power, I keep expecting it to be snatched up
like a banner by all the world’s dispossessed.
This anthem for the mentally ill may be the most concise
and convincing evidence of Adam’s consummate gift as a
songwriter. Listen to the way he sets up the
simple grace of the song proper with the desperate,
defiant harmonies in the intro and bridge.
Walls Start Falling is my personal favorite of all of our collaborative efforts.
Simple, solid and wide open, the music is as
inspirational and supportive as a writer or singer could
ever hope for. Indeed, I think more singers we
know have asked to do this song than any other.
Finally, we have the crystalline Mantra.
Initially an attempt at bare-bones minimalism, the
embellishments of this musical mandala take it – and us
– from its Reich-ian roots into the sublime territory
that is Adam’s own.
-- Peter Stoller
(adapted from concert program notes)