Single Review: Adam Lee – “I Am a Coward”

Adam Lee

photo by Lisa Sullivan; photo courtesy of Adam Lee

Single Review of Adam Lee: “I Am a Coward”

Adam Lee has a deep, dark, gravelly voice with a very unique tone that conveys wisdom and insight, plus a strength and fullness with which he can bring forth great, booming power. It’s been a few years since I reviewed Adam’s album Sincerely, Me in advance of its 2017 release. This single is a welcome reintroduction to Adam’s original style. Among the styles I mentioned in the Sincerely, Me review, this resides closer to the hauntingly Chris Isaak/”Wicked Game”-ish end of his range.

Adam Lee - I Am a Coward

image courtesy of Adam Lee

“I Am a Coward” begins slow and soft but with a steady, traveling beat that it maintains all along. Adam’s voice begins low and questioning, building with the music while adding wisdom, leading into a fade-out with “I am a coward. I am afraid. But even a coward can learn to be brave. If I’m not a lion, am I the cage? I am a coward, but I can change,” then returning with “We always can change.” From that point, the song builds, as if clouds are opening, until the music swells, Adam’s voice booms, and you get goose bumps and chills. The song ends with the hopeful message: “We always can change.”

With his release of this well-crafted song, it’s a pleasure to get to review Adam’s music again. Be sure also to check out the lyric video for “I Am a Coward” on YouTube.

Adam Lee

photo by Lisa Sullivan; photo courtesy of Adam Lee

Looking Ahead

The Tour page of Adam’s website is where you’ll find upcoming gig information. Not surprisingly, there are no gigs listed right now.

Album Review: Adam Lee – Sincerely, Me

Adam Lee

photo by Paul Andrews; photo courtesy of Adam Lee

Album Review of Adam Lee: Sincerely, Me

My first impression of Adam Lee is that of a rockabilly Chris Isaak with a little Billy Joe Armstrong-meets-Elvis Presley thrown in for good measure.

And that’s not a bad starting point. Adam’s voice is smooth yet has a rough edge that seems to suggest he’s always dangerously close to flying completely off the rails. He inhabits a raucous corner of the Americana genre. The former frontman of Kansas City’s Adam Lee & the Dead Horse Sound Company, Adam landed a 2015 Ameripolitan Award nomination in the Honky Tonk Group categorySincerely, Me is his solo album debut.

Adam Lee - Sincerely, Me

image courtesy of Adam Lee

The song that most often pops into my head from this album is “What I Need,” a rattling, energetic, number replete with clever hooks that features ragtime-reminiscent piano… and whose closing lyrics were purloined for the album title.

Also particularly memorable is “Patrick” is an Irish-style folk song with the requisite odd storyline. “When She Danced,” on the other hand, is more like an Irish hymn, with the absolute flip side of what seems like perhaps the same vocal edge.

Adam’s Western-inspired “Misery” mixes a haunting twang with a slow build that never quite explodes, creating an enjoyably artistic tension.

Adam Lee

photo by Paul Andrews; photo courtesy of Adam Lee

Another favorite on this varied disc include the album-opener, not-as-hopeful-as-it-seems “Good Days,” which features the full emotional breadth of Adam’s rough voice and singing style, itself quite conspicuously unique; while the vocals are enunciated as if spoken, they’re simultaneously tunefully sung. And, as I mentioned earlier, smoothly rough and ragged. And the more piano-motored “Son of a Gun,” which uses horns and tempo changes to provide it with an oddly hypnotic energy.

Finally, worth noting, I do love some of the lyrics in “Stray Cat,” including gems like “I’ve found the less you say/The more interested they are/Yeah, a man who talks too much is a man who starves.”

In summary, this disc is a harshly pleasant, boisterous, rockabilly-infused alt-country disc with great depth and style. And Adam Lee provides the sort of memorable vocal that almost sounds as if he sings with an Elvis-inspired quivering lip. The dude’s got style.

Looking Ahead

Per the tour page on Adam’s website, he’ll be at the Bremen Cafe in Milwaukee, WI on Wednesday, November 16; at GLM Live in Lafayette, IN on Friday, November 18; and at the Six Strings Club in Bloomington, IL on Sunday, November 20th.