A Fruitful Passion:
Adron Leaves Atlanta an Exquisite Farewell Gift
Atlanta singer-songwriter Adron, known for strumming like a Brazilian understudy of Luiz Bonfa and whistling like a reincarnated Otis Redding, plans on leaving town for sunny California on a creative high.
New album Water Music, out Aug. 17 with an Aug. 23 release show at Terminal West, ends the long wait since 2011’s Organismo. It comes right before a big move, with the singer relocating to Los Angeles in early September. As for why, go with the two obvious assumptions: a sweet man and potential career advancement.
The album is quite the going away present. It’s an Atlanta record in the truest sense, pairing the rare locally-raised artist who didn’t move here from the burbs or the mountains with some of the best musicians in driving distance. It’s also very risky to reshuffle everything after being dealt such a hot hand, so to speak.
“It could almost be a bonehead move to drop this album, which has been such a big part of my life in Atlanta and such an ongoing process, and then skip town immediately after,” Adron says. “But I think this album will create its own momentum and hopefully be a beautiful culmination of this chapter of my life.”
To make sure excitement about the album goes way beyond the perimeter, Adron hired a publicist to place advance singles on the websites of Billboard and Relix Magazine. That feat alerted Hollywood and everywhere else to an album that’s the musical child of tropicalia, soul and easy-listening pop. And yes, you, too, can pay someone to try to get your next single mentioned by Billboard, but that song probably won’t be as vital as the gorgeous, escapist earworm “Your Habitat.”
Tribo Records, owned by Atlanta musician and frequent Adron collaborator Rafael Pereira, will release the album. It was funded in part by a Pledge Music campaign. Adron met her goal, selling preorders plus signed merchandise and some of her original artwork. In one of the project updates, she revealed that she’d been transcribing song lyrics for a digital music platform in case extra cash was needed. “It can be incredibly tedious, though every once in a while it’s really funny and surprising and interesting,” she wrote. “I’m grinding like a rabid squirrel at this job right now, trying to earn enough money to at least part-way cover the publicists’ fee in case this campaign doesn’t meet its target. Gotta be prepared. Anyway, most of the time the songs I have to transcribe are teethgrindingly awful EDM/techno or trap music…”
As for corny music that doesn’t make her teeth grind, Adron name-dropped Michael McDonald to Billboard. I’m pretty sure that guy sings in a local metal band. She also praises the work of Michael Franks without a hint of irony. If you’re not familiar with his work, just know that the first thing you’ll see in a Google image search is a picture of him holding the most adorable wiener dog. It’s delightful.
“I’m obsessed with him right now,” she says, “I got into his music this year. I only recommend it to you if you have an extremely strong stomach for the most cornball adult contemporary/easy listening pop stuff, but holy shit. I just hope that someday I have the balls to make music that is just that much itself, with no regard to conventions of coolness. It’s like the goofiest, cutest sounds and the most cringe-worthy sexual innuendo in the lyrics, with masterful execution of everything. It’s a virtuosic performance of the cutest, cheesiest ideas you can imagine. I absolutely freaking love him.”
Her strongly encouraged confession of musical love kept getting better. “The true masterpiece, I think, is the album Passion Fruit from the mid-‘80s,” she adds. “Do yourself a favor and hang out with that album for a minute. I think it’s either my first or second favorite album of all-time right now. And the cover is just priceless. You can infer everything you need to know by the cover of that record.”
There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure, darn it, so good on Adron for lauding an album with such song titles as “Now That Your Joystick’s Broke” and “When Sly Calls (Don’t Touch That Phone).” Her Pledge Music page still offers a cover song of your choice as a perk, in case you want to hear either of those deep cuts, Adron-style. As for its ’80s release date, the vinyl arrived in ’83 and, in a Chinese Democracy-style waiting game, the CD version remained elusive until ’87.
Adron’s grasp of South American music predates her various pop obsessions. She started teaching herself guitar at age 12 and discovered Os Mutantes and other Brazilian legends in her mid-teens. While tropical influences were always there, she feels that they’ve become sharpened by her working relationship with Cicada Rhythm, Blair Crimmins and the Hookers and Eliot Bronson drummer Colin Agnew.
“We met when I was 23, and I’m 30 now,” she says. “We’ve spent so much time digesting music together and picking things apart and listening to music and arranging songs. I feel like we’ve evolved together, to a certain extent. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him. I’d say that even though Colin does not play a note of guitar, he had been the best guitar teacher I ever had because he’s taught me to separate my brain into rhythm elements and see my right hand as two instruments – bass and then melody. It’s fascinating getting all of this insight from a percussionist about a completely different instrument. It’s all conceptual, but it totally changed the way that I thought.”
After moving, Adron hopes to keep working with her favorite in-demand drummer, at least for tours. “Probably for the next couple of years, my tours will begin out of Atlanta because I have experience and history building up the Southern and Midwestern markets,” she says. “I want to keep working that from a convenient vantage point. And of course I don’t want to lose track of my favorite players here in town.”
She’ll need artists the caliber of Agnew and the rest of her supporting cast to perform the more ambitious material on Water Music. “A lot of those songs were written with a collaborative spirit,” she says. “There’s keyboard solos I just can’t live without. It’ll be an adventure finding LA musicians who’ll recreate that material with me – and also coming back to Atlanta to round up my boys and hopefully take them on the road in the next year.”
To build a West Coast band, Adron will have to leave her comfort zone. “It’s going to take some time to figure out what the heck I’m doing in LA,” she adds. “There’s so much I can’t predict. I don’t know who I’ll meet and who I’m going to run into or what artists I’ll align myself with. I’m so excited for that adventure, and I think it’s going to challenge a lot of my habits in good and wholesome ways. I’m not that flexible or comfortable playing with other musicians. I kind of made my selection of a handful of dudes that I trust with my material and I trust with my time and my friendship. I love them. I just haven’t been all that flexible, outside of that, and I need to fix that and challenge myself in that area.”
Or she could just be more like her current mustachioed favorite. “In my songbook, there’s two different personalities,” she says. “Some songs really don’t translate to a solo performance or a duet with percussion. You need the full expression of a full band. Water Music represents that more ambitious, orchestrated material. Since I wrote those songs, a lot of the stuff I’ve been writing is way more flexible. It sounds good solo, and it sounds good with a full band. I’ve been working toward writing it that way because I don’t want to have to say no to any kind of gig because of who I can bring with me. It’s a practical choice, but I also like the direction that’s taking me into. Kind of in the spirit of Michael Franks, it’s about the song and the statement and the lyrics and the vibe. You should be able to communicate that with any arrangement.”
Whatever creative path she follows, there’s no reason to think that the lush songs, quirky sense of humor, and boundless imagination of one of Atlanta’s most consistent and talented singer-songwriters will flounder in Hollywood – regardless of how high she rates the Metal McDonald guy or Passion Fruit.