Hope & Sorrow, the latest release by Birmingham singer-songwriter Wilder Adkins, may have taken longer than expected to come out, but it was well worth the wait. Adkins has filled the record with his signature finger style guitar playing, poetic lyrics drenched in life and love and the addition of a full-band dynamic that presents a contrast to his previous lo-fi work. Guest musicians from various sessions also add a rich experience that shines through from beginning to end.
Weld: You’ve been working on the album for a few years, right?
Wilder Adkins: I think it’s been about three years in the making, mainly because I was going from one job to another and running out of money. It’s also the first full studio album I’ve done. I’ve actually worked on it mostly in Georgia at a studio near Atlanta.
Weld: Where did you record this album?
Adkins: It started with my friend Pete at this studio near a goat farm in middle Georgia. He was my first producer and then he moved to Idaho. I brought what we had done back here and worked on it a little with Les Nuby. I ended up finishing it with my friend Tim in a studio outside Atlanta.
Weld: A lot of these songs were previously included on your Live At Eddie’s Attic release.
Adkins: Yeah, they’ve been around a while. It was hard because I was trying to record on my own for a while. What I’m able to do in the studio myself doesn’t match up to how the songs sound in my head. It took a while to get there, but I’m pleased with the way it turned out.
Weld: What can you tell us about the lyrics of the title track?
Adkins: That song is pretty poignant. When I wrote it, I thought about how life has its ups and downs, but the sweet moments wouldn’t be as sweet without the dark moments. We wouldn’t appreciate them as much. Especially life over the past three years, losing a couple of jobs and getting married has definitely had a lot of those hope and sorrow moments. It feels good to finally get it out there because I’m ready to work on new songs that I’ve written.
Weld: Are there any songs that are fairly new that have been written in the last year or so?
Adkins: The two newest ones on the album are “Wrestle” and “Our Love Is A Garden”. I think I wrote both of those in the studio. The others had already been written.
“Wrestle” is a neat one. It’s interesting that it closes out the album because it’s got a little bit of a different sound incorporated with some beats. I’m also playing electric guitar, which is different for one of my albums. It’s a cool way to finish out the album. My favorite band is called Aradhna. They did some Indian Christian music. The lead singer sang in Hindi and played sitar. Some of the guys from Aradhna played on “Wrestle”. Pete is playing guitar and Aradhna’s bass player was on the track. They had a tabla (Indian hand drum) player as well. It was an extended instrumental outro.
Weld: What about artists from Birmingham?
Adkins: There are a lot of guests. Van Hollingsworth plays guitar on one track and bass on another. Macey Taylor played bass on a few of them. Luke Sides plays keys and drums on a lot of them.
For the CD release [concert], we’re going to have three guitars, bass, drums, keys, some synth, two female vocalists (Molly Parden and Casey Harper Aparo).
Weld: How would you say being married has affected you as a musician and lyricist?
Adkins: It’s more work than people really show in movies, TV and romantic comedies. I can definitely say it’s more work than one might expect looking in from the outside. It’s definitely rewarding. The song “Our Love Is A Garden” is a metaphor about how marriage is a garden that you have to keep tending it year-round for it to flourish. There are different things you do in different seasons whether it’s plowing or sowing the seeds.
Weld: What do you hope people will get out of the album?
Adkins: It’s a little different than my older stuff because it’s less lo-fi and has more of a produced sound. I hope that it still sounds like me and can connect with people. Hopefully, they’ll give it a few listens. There are a lot of words on the album, but they mean a lot to me. All of these songs definitely mean a lot to me.
I’m doing a lot to promote it. I’ve hired some PR people, so we’ll be sending it out to different blogs, press, radio stations. Hopefully, it will get some support behind it. I would definitely like to tour. I probably will wait a few months to see how the press goes, so it will be easier to get some shows. So far, we’ve done two music videos that haven’t been released yet. I’m trying to get them premiered on some blogs. It’s going to officially come out in April, but I wanted to go ahead and do the release show in Birmingham so they can be my ambassadors when it comes out worldwide.
Wilder Adkins will play an album release show for Hope & Sorrow on Friday, March 11th. The show will take place at 4022 4th Ave S, current home to Redeemer Community Church. Preston Lovinggood will open. Tickets for the all-ages event are $10 (admission includes a physical CD of the album) and Seeds Coffee will provide coffee and nitro tea. Doors open at 7 p.m.; music starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information, see the event on Facebook.