words by jordan gorsuch
Adir L.C. Hailing from Brooklyn by way of Israel, singer/songwriter Adir L.C. returns with his second full-length album; one that builds on all of the strong tenets of his debut while expanding his sonic-palette. Basket Star opens on a strong note and channels old-school-cool with jazzy piano chords, silky-smooth harmonies, and a welcoming brass section. The horns sound like they’re playing from a smoky bar across the street; warm and inviting, yet just out-of-reach. “Everytime you laugh, I can’t help but crack / Even after all of these years,” Adir sings sweetly, his voice prominent and commanding. When all of those instruments return with even more purpose for the track’s conclusion, the song coaleseasces into a stunning finale of drifting horns, tasteful guitar chords, and harmonies ripped out of Brian Wilson’s playbook.
‘Big Bad’ continues the conceit of sounds that are seemingly at odds and dissonant. It opens on sharp, energetic drum beats that cut-out as quickly as they were introduced, paving the way for folksy, understated acoustic guitar picking. Invisible forces haunt the shadows of the margins of our lives, holding us back from making the progress we convince ourselves we desire. The Big Bad Wolf at the core of this song’s lyrics is inside all of us – that self-doubt, that self-sabotage is omnipresent and can creep on us at any given time (“It’s the Big Bad Wolf in the summer/autumn/winter/spring”). As Adir notes, we have to work for our happiness – we are prey and it is up to us to outfox our predatory wolves.
‘Reacting’ is one of the most memorable moments on Basket Star. Infectious drum beats and melodies latch onto you like a fishing line; too bad this bait is threaded with hooks: “Heard you said you never were one to fight or get mixed up / But it’s been dragging on and on.” It can be hard to admit when a relationship has died, even when you are consciously aware of it (“One day some sense might bless our heads”), but that day isn’t here yet. We like to talk but we are not the best at listening. This song serves as an adept critique of outrage culture as it does with imperfections in our interpersonal relationships. It might not be the cheeriest of subject matter, but that stop-and-go conclusion with blaring horns and synonymous drum blasts helps stave off the pain.
Unorthodox percussion is pushed to the forefront on this bizarrely colorful titular track. The lyrics reflect this auditory detour, instilling self-love and advising us to find lovers that respect us (“Treat you like a star”), and ensuring your friends remember how good you are. Hard-panned vocals and a warbling synth help push the campiness to giddy heights as a harmonica spurs to life alongside a squealing dog in the track’s outro. It’s ridiculous. It’s a welcome respite. Meanwhile, the back-half of the album doubles down on the themes of disillusionment and exasperated acceptance, specifically in regards to our Capitalistic society; Adir achieves this through approaching lyrics with a vignette mindset. Small slices of lives the listener can easily picture: the daily commute on a subway, making art to fend off the feeling of conformity, even patching things up with an estranged son at a barbecue because our time on Earth is limited. This existentialism comes to a head on the energetic “Pink Cloud” which resolves with a voice clip featuring an elderly woman describing her regrets, “I missed certain things that I didn’t know… I knew I didn’t belong here…” A younger voice assures her that it will be okay, and takes her for a summer drive. Small actions can cause substantial change, right?
The album’s centrepiece, “Getting Home,” is razor-focused in its lyricism, committed to a wistful soundscape, and is the obvious standout on the album. Getting home late from a bartending shift, Adir reveals “It’s killing my drive / You once knew me as driven.” These ruminations on creating alongside breadwinning possess an optimistic quality, but how long can one struggle? How long can someone fight the rising tide? That tension that is found throughout the album is what makes it so compelling. That tension is felt in the lyrics, the instruments, the compositions, and the sequencing itself.
“When my pen is my hand is my head is the heart that I test.” You have to challenge your realism (before it shifts to cynicism); cling to the notion that there is hope to be found. Feel. Sometimes your head prevails, or maybe your heart, but the writing will reveal all – the results of that test will be known. I hope Adir L.C. continues to test himself and discover his truths.
The world will be a better place for it.
Basket Star is out now.
You can buy/listen to it here