Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
Little Rock has an absolutely vibrant music scene, one of the best in the country, I believe. In fact, Arkansas has more great bands than I am allotted space in this story to list. We are overflowing with talent. But for right now, I'd like to focus on just one: Adam Faucett.
To describe Faucett for newcomers, think Mark Kozelek or Gordon Lightfoot, but with the voice of an angel that's been set on fire and the look and soul of a feral biker. Think brilliant lyrics sung by a voice that's ever-so-slightly smoky, yet shakes the heavens like Gabriel's trumpet. Think songwriting on par with your favorite band or singer, and think a well-honed, introspective sound that settles in the soul and lingers there long after the song has ended.
Faucett, 32, got his start in Benton, with his terrific (and sadly underappreciated) band, Taught the Rabbits. I was introduced to his music years ago when a friend handed me a Taught the Rabbits CD and said, "Watch out for Adam Faucett. He's really good." When that band fell apart, as bands so often do, Faucett, on a whim, decided to relocate to Chicago.
"I went there with the idea that I was gonna do folk music," he said. "Not because I listened to a bunch of folk music or anybody inspired me. I just knew I could play with my fingers and scream." He wrote an album's worth of music, and returned to Little Rock to record his first solo outing, "The Great Basking Shark."
"I recorded 'Basking Shark' in three days — two days of recording and one day of mixing. That's why it sounds like shit," he said, laughing heartily. Self-deprecation aside, "The Great Basking Shark" does not, in fact, sound like shit. It's actually a stunning debut record — lustrous, dark and soulful. After releasing the album, Faucett practically lived on the road, touring ceaselessly.
"I literally thought that I would die in my minivan with, probably 800 [copies of] 'Basking Shark' in it. It was pretty fucking punk rock." With an air of well-earned satisfaction, he noted, "I sold all of those records on that tour, and I was able to afford to put out another record, and that was "Show Me Magic, Show Me Out.' " It was Faucett's second record, released in 2008. Songs from that record like "Look Out Below!!" are full of hook-y charm and depth, and they outline Faucett's burgeoning mastery in songwriting. Immediately following the release of "Show Me Magic," Faucett returned to his life on the road, eventually selling enough records to be able to release another studio album, the critically acclaimed "More Like a Temple," which racked up accolades from coast to coast almost instantly upon its release in 2011.
In the years since he started, Adam Faucett has released three full-length records, recorded sessions for the venerable indie clearinghouse Daytrotter and for The Attic Sessions, continually toured the United States, regularly played festivals, appeared on compilation albums, toured Europe and shared the stage with some of the brightest and best in music today.
"I'm really witnessing kind of a growing coast-to-coast thing, gatherings of people here and there that are into it. It's like something's happening right now for me, or with me, or whatever," Faucett sheepishly acknowledged recently. "People are kind of coming out of nowhere with opportunities that, you know, just weren't there a year ago."
Later this year, Faucett will release his fourth studio record, once again on his own. Recently, I had the privilege of hearing some unmixed tracks from it, and it is a remarkable work. If Faucett's previous albums featured two or three unforgettable tracks draped on a backdrop of bucolic beauty, his new record is, simply put, wall-to-wall hits. It is a "Nevermind." It is a "Rumours." It is a "Soft Bulletin." It is Adam Faucett's best album yet. Songs like "Melanie," "Walking Home Late," "Daydrinker," and "Benton" are those types of songs that sound as though they already existed, and were just waiting for you to be the last person on Earth to hear them. Luckily for those of us who are familiar with Faucett's remarkable body of work, we'll all be able to hear them soon: Faucett will perform July 12 at Maxine's in Hot Springs and July 20 at the White Water Tavern.
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