Country Jukebox Jury EPs – Adele & Andy, Track45 and Adam Hambrick

Adele & Andy – Where I Belong

The title track of the four-track EP from this British couple has a glorious guitar passage while Adele’s vocal makes me think of Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek, as she sings a thoughtful lyric externalising her feelings. ‘I was a prisoner of my mistakes’ but now she’s ‘riding the crest of the wave’ because she has found her man. No More Goodbyes is about going down a road (‘it is tiring’) but being cheered up by a guy, where Adele finds a Romeo to her Juliet, a ‘hero to her princess’, set to a gentle acoustic tune.

Echoes of the Forest is a story song which begins slowly but accelerates into the second verse, which talks of ‘deep betrayal in the middle of the night’. It breaks into a fab chorus which Adele sings superbly, and it’s a well written, folky story.

Misty Eyes, which was rolled out a month before the EP, chugs along, and the pair draw out the ‘eyes’ for nine syllables. It’s the most memorable part of the song. When I write songs, eyes are the easiest thing to focus on (windows to the soul, shining etc) but it’s a good choice of adjective to tell the tale of a cheat. ‘I was blinded…battered and bruised…broken and used’ is the conclusion, which I am sure Adele will spit out when the duo perform this live. I’ll be there to see it and I hope people give these four tracks a listen.

Track45 – Big Dreams

Track45, aka the siblings Jenna, KK and Ben Johnson, put out three tracks under the banner Small Town last year. I loved their little introduction set as part of Country Music Week last October and they aren’t like any other country act: they can play fiddle, cello, banjo and guitar between them and can also write songs (Ben wrote One of them Girls, the Lee Brice chart-topper).

The song they wrote with Gabrielle Mooney, Come On In, hooked me with its line about ‘calling dinner supper’ and the mention of Avril Lavigne. The gentle Me + You (‘football and tailgates, bare feet and sand’) was also rolled out last year, as was the single the trio are sending to radio, Met Me Now. It’s very current in its production and KK’s vocals will hook people who love Kelsea and Carly Pearce, while the lyric is full of vulnerability: ‘I was young but I was stupid’ and ‘If I could find a way to rearrange the time’ are great, as is the melodic heft of the chorus and the harmonies throughout.

All three are on their Big Dreams EP, which adds two more tracks. I am positive they would have plugged it as part of Country2Country this year and, like The Bee Gees and Hanson, would become a family band the Brits would love.

Little Bit More, written with Audra Mae, and a cover of the Dolly Parton song Light of a Clear Blue Morning, both offer more treats. The former begins with KK hymning God for ‘all the shots’ she has taken, before the chorus explodes in gratitude: ‘I’d give it up for a little bit more’. It’s catchy and fun, and Ben takes the second verse (‘It’s high time I did some taking’). Check out the acoustic version on their Youtube channel which emphasises the harmonies. Their cover is well chosen, as the siblings take turns to sing of ‘looking for the sunshine’ and the hope on the horizon. They must have learned how to harmonise with this one, and it is wonderful that the world can share in their talent.

Adam Hambrick – Flipsides

The great Adam Hambrick’s new tune is Broken Ladder, the latest in a series where he brings out two tracks at a time. Having done this three times, we have six songs which have been collected on the Flipsides EP, which is the closest thing to an album he’s brought out. I love his songs Rockin All Night Long and Forever Ain’t Long Enough and, in particular, the terrific Country Stars, which he performed at C2C 2019 along with hits he wrote for Dan + Shay (How Not To) and Justin Moore (Somebody Else Will).

The four tracks we’ve heard are: the perky, poppy The Longer I Lay Here (a duet with Jillian Jacqueline), which rattles along tunefully; the ruminative Kill A Man, full of classic chords and a determination to go against one’s character and protect a woman at all costs (‘There’s no fire I wouldn’t walk through’) that sounds like Justin Bieber rewriting a mashup of two Bruno Mars songs (Grenade and When I Was Your Man); John Mayer homage Sunshine State of Mind, which compares a woman to the elements (‘love so bright I got my shades on’); and Do The Math, where Adam is alone in a bar regretfully counting out his drinks rather than ‘bouncing back’.

Broken Ladder has Adam singing he is a ‘record on repeat’ and once again drinking heavily because he can’t get over his ex. After a rapid-fire verse, the chorus comes in after 25 seconds, in the modern style, and has Adam ‘trying to climb to heaven’ on a broken ladder, a great metaphor. The production is superb too.

The other new song comes at the end of the EP. When It All Sinks In (written with fellow A-Listers Gordie Sampson and Kelly Archer) is about thCe time ‘between the no and then feeling’ as love dies. It’s a song about nothing, in that it spotlights the moment in time just before the realisation of loss hits. I like how the entire track drops out for half a beat before the second verse, which talks of wounds still being hot. This is very, very clever songwriting – it’s like they wrote it at Pixar HQ –  and no wonder it’s at the end of this brilliant project. I hope Adam becomes as successful as he deserves to be, even if his friends Dan and Shay sell out arenas.

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