Adam Faucett Proves He's One of the Strongest Contemporary Songwriters with 'It​​ Took the Shape of a Bird'

Photo: Matt White

Adam Faucett's long awaited follow-up to 2014's Blind Water Meets Blind Water absolutely soars.

It Took the Shape of a Bird
Adam Faucett

Last Chance

27 July 2018

Eddie's Attic in Decatur, Georgia, is a "listening room" venue, which means that before each performance, there's a polite announcement to shut up while the show's on, and if you really need to talk or answer that stupid cell phone, that's what the back porch bar is for. At least, that's the way it is for the featured artist. Sometimes with the opener, they forget that reminder. Such was the case when I saw Adam Faucett open for Damien Jurado back in 2014.

Faucett, an unobtrusive, short, bearded guy in aviator glasses was his own roadie, setting up amidst the audience chatter that didn't stop when he stood at the mic and began playing his first song. The chatter even amplified a bit as Faucett's guitar began its ringing intro to "Daydrinker", the lead track from his just-released Blind Water Finds Blind Water. Then, that voice, keening and ethereal: "I've seen all that I need to see / No, oh nobody is gonna out-drink me / It gets so lonesome in the afternoon / when you're the only one with nothing to do." The place fell silent and stayed that way, save for the hoots and cheers between each song.

That's the kind of performer and songwriter Faucett is. He surprises you, takes hold of you, and doesn't let you let go. Take "King Snake", the opening song of his new collection It Took the Shape of a Bird. Faucett sings from the perspective of a young woman, orphaned and abandoned to cousins ("They need some little girl like I need hard lessons") who formed the first in a long line of abusive men. Seeing a king snake in the woods, she opines, "How I wish I was like the king, where poison wouldn't mean a thing" before turning to thoughts of vengeance.

Faucett's songs land hard emotional punches through economic narratives and poetic realism. Themes of powerlessness populate these many songs, conveying a sense of just how hard it is out there in contemporary America. Faucett's characters are people living threadbare lives with raw nerves fully exposed, short of fuse, and quick to violence, though that violence is just as likely to be turned on the self as if that's the only solution to hardship and the only opportunity to feel, to find justification, or closure.

The album's centerpiece is the beautiful, devastating "Dust", a heartbreaking narrative of holding on while everyone and everything else around you breaks. "Some folks need god," Faucett sings, "this I never understood / Until I saw the dust of rock bottom on the knees of my friend / And how it all was taken from him." I haven't heard a song all year that better addresses our current mental health crisis and its attendant issues of drug abuse and suicide as Faucett continues, "Yeah, the world ain't clean / Put that gun down and lean on me / Let your god go and lay it on me." The song builds through a double bridge, first imagining those we've already lost waiting upon our own mortal decisions then doubling down on a commitment to life: "If your head's on a track, then I'm on a track, too / If you're not coming back, then I'm not coming back, too." It ends with the narrator confronting his own father's fear of mortality, which brings a realization that we are all locked within our own self-chosen patterns all leading to the same conclusion. "Dust" is a confrontation of depression and its myriad traps, a song that brings catharsis to any listener bitten by that "black-eyed dog" as Nick Drake once sang of his own depression, carried along by Faucett's harrowing vocal performance.

Accompanied here by a full band, It Took the Shape of a Bird cooks up a racketous stew that skirts the boundaries of folk-rock and the blues. Where the instrumental sparseness of Blind Water allowed Faucett to spotlight his voice and lyrics, these new songs rely as much on sound as symbol to convey their heart-on-the-sleeve sentiments. It shows Faucett's growth as a bandleader and arranger and solidifies his stature as one of the strongest voices among contemporary songwriters.





'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.


Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.


Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.


Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.


Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.


British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.


Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".


In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.


Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.


Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.


Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.


Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.


'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.


Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.


From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.


Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.


Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.