Adam Klein is a singer/songwriter, troubadour, and world traveler whose music touches on Americana, rustic country folk, folk-rock, and West African Mande music out of Athens, Georgia. With six albums under his belt, Klein performs either solo, duo, or with a rotating cast of players in his band, Adam Klein & The Wild Fires. The group’s first album together, Sky Blue DeVille, was released in April 2013. In fall 2015 Klein released his latest collection, Archer’s Arrow.
Klein’s music has garnered praise from Paste, No Depression, Georgia Music, Sing Out!, Flagpole, Stomp & Stammer, Maverick, and Connect Savannah Magazines, as well as on numerous Americana blogs worldwide (Americana UK, Roots Highway, CtrlAltCountry, etc.). His second and third releases, Wounded Electric Youth and Western Tales & Trails, debuted on the Euro Americana charts at #5 and #4, respectively. Klein has performed throughout the U.S. and toured in the UK, Ireland, and The Netherlands. He was an official performing artist at the 2008 Folk Alliance conference, and has shared the stage with a diverse range of acts including Josh Ritter, Kevn Kinney, James McMurtry, Okkervil River, Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck, Shawn Mullins, Jim Lauderdale, Robert Ellis, Joe Pug, Steep Canyon Rangers, Eilen Jewell, Shovels & Rope, Jonathan Byrd, Caroline Herring, Jim White, Jill Andrews, Fred Eaglesmith, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Andrew Combs, American Aquarium, Bill Mallonee, Eef Barzelay, Larkin Poe, and more.
He has performed in such legendary venues as: 40 Watt Club (Athens, GA); Georgia Theatre (Athens, GA); Melting Point (Athens, GA); Terminal West (Atlanta, GA); Eddie’s Attic (Decatur, GA); The Living Room (NYC); Rockwood Music Hall (NYC); Iota (Arlington, VA); Club Passim (Cambridge, MA); Caffe Lena (Saratoga Springs, NY); 12th & Porter (Nashville, TN); and Pappy & Harriet’s (Pioneertown, CA), among others.
Klein’s records have featured a who’s-who of talented musicians from Athens and beyond, including Randall Bramblett, John Neff (ex-Drive-By Truckers), David Blackmon (Widespread Panic, Jerry Reed), Lera Lynn, Fat Possum Records engineer Bronson Tew, Carlton Owens (Cracker), William Tonks, AJ Adams, Ike Stubblefield (Marvin Gaye, Al Green, B.B. King), and Phil Parlapiano (John Prine, Grant Lee Buffalo).
In 2012 Klein released his first ‘world music’ record, the original Malian Mande collection Dugu Wolo. An associated making-of-the-record documentary film is in the works. Klein is the founder of upstart independent label Cowboy Angel Music and co-founder of the annual Athens Americana Music Festival in Athens, Georgia.
On Archer’s Arrow:
After five albums touching on everything from rustic country to folk, Americana to West African Mande music, Georgia’s Adam Klein remains a songwriter in pursuit- both within and without- of songs and stories, working to fashion tales from and of the wide world. And he’s got a lot of catching up to do. “I seem to be on a two-year plan,” he notes, getting a record out every other year or so. “That’s a fairly slow clip that doesn’t keep up with my writing. I’m sitting on four collections of songs which are basically written and unrecorded.” The prolific Klein chips away at his trove of unreleased material with his newest, and most powerful, raw, and rocking album to date, Archer’s Arrow.
The story begins around 2010, when Klein’s Cowboy Angel Music label released Athens’ pop-rock outfit Nutria’s record, Permanent Reminder of a Temporary Emotion. The trade-off was that Nutria would back Klein on an album. By the time they convened to record in drummer Jason Eshelman’s basement studio in the fall of 2011, Nutria had undergone a change of personnel, and Klein brought songs written across continents- in Mali, India, in Bloomington, Indiana, at home in Athens, Georgia- and over the span of a decade.
In three or four sessions, Klein gathered with the remnants of Nutria- the ever-steady Eshelman, the dependable Andy Pope (bass), and an extemporizing David Weiglein on electric guitar- and made short order of recording the songs. The approach was simple and loose- Klein played a song for the band, they ran through it two or three times, and hit record. Typically using the first or second take, Eshelman made quick mixes of the tracks and Klein was out the door with the basics of an album.
Though he heard the makings of a strong album, Klein knew it could sound even better with careful sonic attention. So it sat for nearly three years, an unfinished yet promising project. In the meantime, Klein recorded and released Sky Blue DeVille to great acclaim with a rotating cast of players in his band, The Wild Fires. Finally, in 2014, engineer, producer, and former Wild Fires drummer Bronson Tew returned to Athens to revisit and fine tune Archer’s Arrow.
Tew later brought the songs to Dial Back Sound studio in Water Valley, MS, and further built the tracks. Under Tew’s skillful hands, the collection achieved its warm and layered sonic state. Tew added electric guitar and built three of the songs (“Boybutante Dreams” and closing tracks “Wild Goose Chase” and “Heartbreak Airplane”) along with Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition’s Stuart Cole (bass) and Eric Carlton (organ, piano). The result of the cross-state collaboration bridging Athens’ finest purveyors of pop-rock and the tasteful stylings from the Delta in the service of Klein’s folk rock material is the singer/songwriter’s best sounding record.
Archer’s Arrow is a lush, textured collection with thick guitars in the vein of Neil Young with Crazy Horse (compliments of Weiglein and later Tew), organ and pleasing piano, and a steadfast rhythm section balanced by Klein’s signature warm and engaging voice. Some tracks are firmly folk rock in nature and others mark the Americana-leaning troubadour’s assured and welcomed foray into rock n roll.
Here the songs take on a darker lyrical edge, from the taking-stock opener “Song for a New Year” to the blazing end-of-love jam “Burnin’ Love”. And there’s lightness and just plain fun: “Radar Man” is a reworked poem Klein’s grandfather wrote whiling away the time as a radio and radar repair technician in Philippines during World War II, “Boybutante Dreams” imagines the inner turmoil of a man transitioning to being a woman, and “Say You Don’t Love Me” (with what Klein considered a throwaway lyric) is a pop gem too fun to dismiss. It’s fitting for Klein to give a nod to one of his favorite songwriters, Neil Young, on the record, covering the slightly obscure track Young performed acoustic on the Johnny Cash show, “Bad Fog of Loneliness”.
Klein’s quiver is full of stories untold and songs unsung. With Archer’s Arrow, he reaches back and sends out an exhilarating musical shot, straight and true, a folk-rock n roll bullseye.