Adam Klein



Athens, Georgia-based singer/songwriter Adam Klein’s journey as musical storyteller achieves new heights with his newest release and band debut, Adam Klein & The Wild Fires’ Sky Blue DeVille, due out April 15th on Klein’s Cowboy Angel Music label.

In summer 2011 Klein gathered together friends and musical associates to found his first set touring band, The Wild Fires. Klein had already released three well-received albums featuring assorted all-star line-ups from the talented Athens scene, including Randall Bramblett, John Neff (Drive-By Truckers), David Blackmon, multi-instrumentalist AJ Adams, Lera Lynn, and more, but the formation of The Wild Fires seemed to mark a turning point. Alongside bandmates Steve Abercrombie (bass) and Crash Cason (electric guitar), multi-instrumentalist and drummer Bronson Tew joined the fold and the project was propelled forward. Adam Klein & The Wild Fires toured throughout the southeast and gained steam.

The group began recording in April 2012 at Full Moon Studio in Watkinsville, GA, for an intended 7” vinyl release, but the project slowly expanded, first to a six-song 10” and finally into a full length nine-song collection. The songs were certainly there, as Klein found himself with nearly three other albums already written.

Over a matter of months, between playing shows and Klein’s travels to West Africa, the band built the songs of Sky Blue DeVille. Recorded by accomplished engineer Tew of the Fat Possum label’s Dial Back Sound (Dexateens, Water Liars), the collection steers away from the country and roots-heavy stylings and instrumentation of Klein’s previous releases in favor of a more Americana rock approach centered on Cason and Tew’s thick electric guitars and special guest Randall Bramblett’s dense Wurlitzer, Rhodes, and piano. Legendary Hammond B3 maestro Ike Stubblefield (Marvin Gaye, Al Green, B.B. King) also contributes his grand sound to closing track “Highway of Your Love”, and David Blackmon (The Kenney-Blackmon String Band, Widespread Panic, Jerry Reed) sat in for touches of fiddle.

Mixed to tape by Bronson Tew at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, MS, the nine-song record is a powerful, sweeping collection characterized by a warm, rich analogue sound. Diverse in sound, Sky Blue DeVille manages to bring together a range of song types with remarkable effect.

The opener and title track, robed in the honey-toned wurlitzer and shimmering guitars, is a new sonic presentation of Klein’s evocative and nostalgic signature style. A nod to a bygone time, here is the story of a beleaguered and confused Elvis Presley, prisoner of his own empire, longing for the simplicity of days past. “Drivin’ in the Rain” revisits the King as he sinks deeper into disconnected melancholy, reflected in the tense, unsettling music and the lyrics: “Just a shadow of what used to be/ I got a paranoid mind/ Roller coasters and magazines/ and a hollowed out smile/ While bluebottle flies swarming at my side/ keeping me alive”.

Elsewhere, the band locks into a Muscle Shoals groove replete with tasteful horns on “Goodnight Nobody”’s grey and rainy stroll through Red Hook; enjoys a bright, pop spin and sing-a-long, refusing to be brought low by the hazzards of love on “Where Our Love Is”; and sparsely colors and builds yet another of Klein’s compelling, lyrically proficient story-songs, “Jesse’s Mind”. Told from the perspective of Jesse James’ mother as she awaits the dreaded news of his death, Cason’s guitar work is on show here, channeling the dynamic fills and lines of no less than Mark Knopfler.

“In a Southern Way” was written and recorded within weeks, a rarity for Klein. “I was driving back to Bronson’s after a show,” says Klein, “and passed a cemetery with blue lights emanating from each grave marker. It was ghostly, and the lyrics and melody started forming immediately. When we got to his place we sat on the porch, worked out the progression, and I wrote it over the next day or so.” A quiet hit amongst the tracks, Klein wonders of paths untaken and lives un-lived. “You live life and make seemingly small decisions, often with little foresight, which have a monumental affect on who you become and what you do. Should I have left Athens to live anywhere else in the world and pursued a different life? Am I maximizing the ways in which I can give to the world?” A commentary on his hometown scene and the special, charming “small town” community he remains connected with, Klein sings: “Coulda been gone baby/ I just never did leave/ It’s my home and I long to stay… I got stoned in a southern way”.

Finally, the B3 organ swells of gospel-like love hymn “Highway of Your Love” closes the collection in majestic form.

A far cry from his previous release, the acoustic West African ‘Mande’ roots record, Dugu Wolo, Sky Blue DeVille represents yet another step forward for Klein’s versatile songwriting as he continues to explore and expand upon sounds rooted in his exciting brand of Americana and folk.

Sky Blue DeVille

2013

Adam Klein & The Wild Fires’ first record together, Sky Blue DeVille favors an Americana rock sound over roots instrumentation on Klein’s engaging Americana/folk songs. With touches of Memphis soul and R&B rhythms, the album is anchored by thick organs and electric guitar. Featuring special guests Randall Bramblett, Ike Stubblefield, and David Blackmon.

Track Listing:

1. Sky Blue DeVille
2. Restless Soul
3. Days to Come
4. Drivin’ in the Rain
5. In a Southern Way
6. Goodnight Nobody
7. Jesse’s Mind
8. Where Our Love Is
9. Highway of Your Love

Dugu Wolo

2012

Adam’s first ‘world music’ record, recorded in Bamako, Mali, and featuring traditional West African instrumentation (kora, ngoni, calabash, talking drum, etc.). Original songs in the Bambara language. American roots meets rustic Mande music. Beautiful digipak CD and booklet featuring an essay on Adam’s musical experience in Mali, description of the instrumentation, pictures, and a write-up on the meaning of the songs.

Track Listing:

1. Baara Kadi
2. Faso Mali Denw
3. Djon Si Sekote
4. Maliyo
5. Kana Waa
6. Bana
7. Aye Ndeme
8. Hereba
9. Diamond
10. Furu
11. Bonya
12. Come So Far

Wounded Electric Youth

2010

Acclaimed Americana folk-pop gem featuring AJ Adams, David Blackmon (fiddle), Randall Bramblett (saxophone and piano), Lera Lynn (harmony vocals), Carlton Owens, Jason Fuller and Jess Franklin (rhodes and organ), and other top Athens musicians.

Track Listing:

1. Driftin’
2. To Be A Loner
3. Anna (You Were Supposed To Be Mine)
4. Call My Name
5. Of Pirates & Vagabonds
6. Griffin’s Song
7. Wayward Son
8. Fairy Tale
9. Tired Afternoon (Out For Love)
10. Once In Paris
11. 12th & Porter

Western Tales & Trails

2008

Touches of rustic folk, Americana, Texas swing, Sun Studios’ rockabilly, and folk-rock delivered by an all-star cast of Athens, Georgia’s finest.

Track Listing:

1. Hank’s Woman
2. Nomie Wise
3. Dakota
4. Don Fernando
5. Purple Sage
6. Naduah
7. Ruby Darby
8. Her Spanish Love
9. Guitars, Wine & Women
10. Black Gold
11. Dead Cow Hill
12. Joni (Corner of a Dark Cafe)

Distant Music

2006

Athens, GA, singer/songwriter Adam Klein’s debut release. A collection of rustic, dusty country folk songs colored with pedal steel, fiddle, dobro, and piano by some of Athens’ finest players. Distant Music explores the timeless themes of love, loss, distance, movement, and home.

Track Listing:

1. St. Paul
2. Restless Soul
3. Dusty Rose
4. Full Moon Night
5. Star Of Love
6. Time
7. Visions Of Faith
8. Truck Stop Love
9. Walkin’
10. Bound To Roam
11. Mississippi Momma
12. Lonesome And Aching
13. River Blues

Praise for Dugu Wolo

“Klein’s natural tendency as a songwriter is to lean into the dusty and rustic, playing acoustic country with a folk influence. His 2006 debut Distant Music and 2008 follow-up Western Tales & Trails find a songwriter with an easy grip on storytelling and American traditions… Though Klein may be a fish out of water- or a log in a Malian river- he’s found a way to bridge the inspiration he feels in rural West Africa with the sense of community Athens is known for.”
- Chris Hassiotis, Georgia Music Magazine

“Damn good… clean, intimate, and thoroughly inclusive— a work that transcends not only genre, but also geography and culture. Dugu Wolo would fit comfortably as background music in a coffee shop in Athens, GA or a marketplace in Tombouctou, Mali.”
- Carrie Dagenhard, Flagpole Magazine

“A remarkably soulful record, leaving a warm glow in its wake… there is a sublime beauty to the interplay of instruments.. a rather beautiful piece of work.”
- John Davy, Flyin Shoes

“Klein, while singing in Bambara, sounds natural, comfortable. He sounds like who he is: an American deeply steeped in West African music… [Dugu Wolo is] a bridge between two worlds.”
- Scott Stevens, SoundRoots

“Anyone interested in the guitar and blues sounds of Boubacar Traore, Lobi Traore, Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita, and Toumani Diabate, among others, will find joy and solace in this amazing collection of songs”
- Matthew Forst, Inside World Music

“A beautiful combination of blues, jazz, and acoustic folk with traditional Mandinka music… Dugu Wolo is a piece of music art. “
-Johan Schoenmakers, Altcountryforum

“Purity and tranquility radiate from this album… stunning.”
-Yvo Zels, Rootstime

“His music crosses boundaries… Dugu Wolo is a satisfying album that will be enjoyed by fans of Malian blues.”
-Angel Romero, World Music Central

“For his latest album, Athens’ Americana singer-songwriter Adam Klein went pretty far out of his range — all the way to Mali, where he recorded Dugu Wolo with indigenous talent, singing mostly in the native language, Bambara. Klein’s laid-back approach to vocals suits this scenario nicely, with the results sounding like Amos Lee covering Nana Vasconcelos. When he’s not forging musical alliances in Africa, Klein is heavily involved in the still vital Athens music scene; he’s the co-founder of the Athens Americana music festival..”
-Kevin Oliver, Columbia Free Times

The Huffington Post (Article)/ Flagpole Magazine (Article)/ Worldview Magazine (Article)/ Athens Banner-Herald (Article) /Red & Black (Article)/ Africa is a Country (Blog)/ Afropop Worldwide (Blog)/ Scrambler (Blog)

Praise for Wounded Electric Youth

Wounded Electric Youth is a bold move for Adam Klein… one of the finest albums of the year. This is a treasure trove of song writing. Klein displays a sense of subtlety rare in the ego driven world of the modern music scene. The art of storytelling which was so prominent in Klein’s last album “Western Tales and Trails” is again present here and comes to the fore in “Of Pirates and Vagabonds”, while the imagery and colour portrayed throughout the album is a delight. “12th and Porter” brings the album to a close as if at the end of a long, but wholesome journey… Classy. It is a confident and assured step forward for Klein…”
- Americana UK (9*)

Short list for best album of the year.. a songwriter and interpreter in a state of grace and constant growth, a name to follow absolutely.”
- Roots Highway

“One step further in his artistic evolution… Klein is a brilliant songwriter and storyteller… [Wounded Electric Youth]’s beauty and strength lie in the quiet, subtle narrative work which manages to touch your deepest soul.”
- Rootstime

“With Athens, Georgia-based songwriter Adam Klein’s well-executed third release, Adam takes us through a variety of songs, several stemming from the wonder and angst in finding the right girl in achingly poignant vignettes, yet bolstered by his rough-tinged and rootsy musical backdrop. Alongside this exploration are songs like “Wayward Son,” where he takes off as the wanderer in search of his own truth, and in the opening cut knows how to celebrate and relax into the joys of a southern summer life with “Driftin’”. Klein steps a bit more outside of himself with the melodically captivating and sung “Of Pirates and Vagabonds”– dipping back into history and into the English & Celtic traditions of sea ballads. I’m assuming he made it up to Nashville for the evocative “12th & Porter” where an “old wood guitar plays and everybody sings along” and where the likes of Mindy Smith cut her musical teeth. Expertly packaged, from concept to the nostalgic packaging and artwork, Adam Klein has found his footing and firmly established himself as an artist on the rise.”
- Kari Estrin, Sing Out! Magazine

“Balanced.. Klein’s songwriting is evocative.. the devil’s in the details they say and this recording has that in spades.”
- Beat Surrender

“Adam Klein is a singer/songwriter with a rural sound (dig that Harvest-era pedal steel!) and a Dylan/Earle sense of poetic lyricism”
- Connect Savannah

“Covers the entire idiom, ranging from country soul to country-pop, rustic country folk to light-gritty country rock.”
- Altcountry.nl

“Music of warmth and character.. a gentle treat for ravaged souls.”
- Flyin Shoes

“A combination of Americana, folk rock, and indie pop, singer-songwriter Adam Klein’s third release is lighthearted and nostalgic, putting forth the theme of introspection and soul-searching through picture-painted storytelling… The bold production, luminous melodies, and engaging anecdotes of summertime (“Driftin’”), unrequited love (“Anna, You Were Supposed to be Mine”), and subsequent longing (“Wayward Son”), along with vibrant imagery in the realm of Ryan Adams, Tim Easton, and Matt the Electrician are among the multitude of positive attributes that make Wounded Electric Youth an absolute pleasure to listen to… A beautiful effort, natural-born storyteller Klein has crafted a cohesive, elaborate, and expertly layered coming-of-age document.”
- Performer Magazine

“Although the roots renaissance has been riding in on some degree of pop experimentations, the results that I’ve heard remain largely purist. While the country and bluegrass crowd continues to dangle their toes into the pool of pop, Klein has calmly walked past them and dived directly into the deep end with all his clothes still on. ‘Tired Afternoon (Out For Love)’ has all the mellow markings of a mid-1970s Neil Young or James Taylor – soft, lush, spacious… The bouncing melody and female harmonies in ‘To Be A Loner’ shine like a beacon to lure the more purist roots artists deeper into pop waters. Anything that sounds this fun has to be good for you! But purists aren’t so easily lured. Meeting them half way, Klein shows them he is capable of the most haunting traditionals while keeping his pop hat on in the 7+ minute epic, ‘Of Pirates & Vagabonds’.”
- Basement Rug

“Southern living is good living. Backyard barbecues, little league baseball, red clay dirt, and porch swings. The days are warm, the nights are warmer, and good vibes abound. Such is the mood conjured by Athens, Georgia-based singer-songwriter Adam Klein on his latest release, Wounded Electric Youth. Singing in a warm, rich voice and backed by near-perfect musicianship, Klein anchors these 12 tracks around an air of familiarity, providing the soundtrack for a day of southern, small-town sampling. Klein echoes his alt-country influences-“Anna (It Was Supposed to be Me)” and “Griffin’s Song” breeze along like Steve Earle deep cuts, “Call My Name” and “Wayward Son” recall recent Son Volt, and the delicate wordplay of “Fairy Tale” brings to mind Josh Ritter. Klein also takes a couple of detours from the song’s rustic themes and peers into his protagonists’ wounded psyche who pine for lost love, last goodbyes, and final shots at redemption. It is with these themes that Klein’s lyrics ring truest… Like his influences, Klein’s characters know that beneath the cheerful veneer of southern hospitality there is sometimes pain and longing that needs to escape. With Wounded Electric Youth, Klein illustrates this concept well.”
- Glide Magazine

Praise for Western Tales & Trails

“Brilliant album”
- Rootsville

“Compelling stories from a gifted storyteller… Klein has found a rich vein of songwriting material and mined it with extraordinary skill… incredible stuff, a distillation of wide and tasteful influences that still manages to speak in its own compelling voice… recalling Paul Simon but imbued with the wide eyed spirit of Neil Young”
- Americana UK

“[Klein’s] star is on the rise… This troubadour from Athens, Georgia, plays Americana, country, and folk rock once again set to beautiful lyrics, often much avowed and strikingly poetic. Townes Van Zandt, Mark Olson, Steve Earle and Josh Ritter come to mind spontaneously upon listening to Klein’s soul-moving performance.”
- CtrlAltCountry

“[S]urprisingly strong album by the young singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia… Klein succeeds in leaving behind a great impression through finely detailed lyrics and an excellent accompanying band… Storytelling is an art which Klein masters”
- Kindamuzik

“His songs… fall squarely in the storytelling tradition of such gifted writers as Townes Van Zandt and David Olney. Listening to the Athens, Georgia, artist’s material is sometimes like stepping into a sepia-toned photograph, or through the swinging doors of a saloon.”
- Russell Hall, No Depression

“Adam Klein serves up nicely-done, understated Americana… evokes prime Band and later-period Byrds”
- Jeff Clark, Stomp & Stammer

“Klein’s got the grit of a seasoned pro as he pays homage to a time long past with impeccable charm and grace.”
- Alec Wooden, Athens Blur Magazine

“Western Tales & Trails is a mix of dark lyrics, surrounded by an upbeat tempo, and Jim White vocal styling”
- Lithium Radio

Praise for Distant Music

“On Distant Music, Adam Klein plays his role of a singer-songwriter who isn’t quite folk, and isn’t quite alt.country, but rather nestled nicely between the two. With the sweet opener, “St. Paul,” he walks that fine line and ends up with a sound resembling Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner. On the acoustic-laced “Restless Soul” and the barren “Dusty Rose” he works in the vein of Tim Easton or others of that fine ilk. Klein rarely ventures out of this comfort zone, instead nailing tunes like “Full Moon Night” out of the park with its subtle pedal steel accents. It’s the sort of music you’d hate to hear in a bar because people would be idiotically talking over tunes such as “Visions Of Faith” with its close, hushed feeling running throughout it. The same can be said for “Truck Stop Love,” the somewhat warm and folksy “Walkin’” that shines bright, and the Nebraska-ish album highight, “Bound To Roam.” Distant Music is a great album, but one that will sadly fall under most people’s radar.”
- Glide Magazine

“… an engaging debut that’s as reliable and uncomplicated as a stout cup of coffee. It’s a fun, unpretentious batch of originals that suits this decade as well as any of the previous four.”
- Flagpole Magazine

“Distant Music… holds enough quality to grow into a leading roll of its genre.”
- JacobVisser.nl

“What a beauty! With thirteen songs this newcomer is already keeping us for days in a spell of wonder… With closed eyes it is not difficult to picture exactly what the songwriter means to convey. Just imagine Klein, for the occasion accompanied by his acoustic guitar, sitting at dusk at the banks of the Niger, plucking away at his instrument and timidly breaking the silence with newly arranged tunes.”
- Ctrlaltcountry.be

“Beautiful, thrilling… sincere narratives. [Klein] brings a pure song with a rare sincerity and intensity seldom heard in today’s music”
- Freddy Celis, Rootstime

“Klein is exploring standard themes common to most songwriters. However, the fact that his songs are so obviously well-crafted, and the fact that his presentation— an engaging voice and quiet, acoustic country meets early-Dylanesque folk arrangements— ensures that Klein rises above the pack.”
- Sing Out! Magazine

“Klein has a poet’s soul”
- Frank Gutch, Jr., Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

“… an album steeped in the cosmic cowboy music of the late 1960s to early 1970s. Think Neil Young’s loping country beat from Harvest and the harmonies of The Band. You can hear familiar echoes of musicians like Woody Guthrie, Guy Clark and Bob Dylan… As with Dylan during his domestic period (1968-74), Klein’s songs reflect a life being lived… one part Planet Waves and one part Travels with Charlie.”
- Warren McQuiston, Southeast Performer Magazine

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