Published Mar 05, 2020Since he started recording as Addy in 2017, Adam Watkins has defied categorization. His two EPs, re call and Rose Eyes, placed gliding, alt-country-ish guitars over sheets of electronic ambiance that approached, but never really settled on, cosmic country, in part because they were, like most bedroom projects, experimental and intimate. Although Addy's debut full-length, Eclipse, blends windblown riffs with electronic percussion and occasionally cloudy synths, and seems guided by a similarly DIY sensibility, Eclipse's elements feels tighter, crisper, and more richly layered.
At times jangly and sweet, at others cool and wiry, Watkins' guitar evokes nature on the cusp: sunny spring days with snow on the groun; autumn days with a red dying sun; the golden hour seen from a summer field. His dotted, punchy Casio-sequenced drums and sometimes-altered vocals introduce a layer of artifice, imbuing these natural scenes with a sense of self-consciousness, as if to remind that they were evoked in a home studio.
Despite these reminders of artifice, Eclipse convincingly paints a number of transporting scenes, made real by their tactile language. In his gentle lilting voice, which sometimes leaps into falsetto, sometimes turns into a soft, sideways howl, Watkins describes wind blowing on your face as you ride your bike, climbing peach trees, scraping knees and getting stained by strawberries — scenes that feel tangible, especially when cast in his sunny, earthy alt-country. Almost inevitably, these quiet scenes turn existential: on "Pond" water becomes a purifier of guilt; on "Easier" Watkins pivots on the peach tree image to explore how skin, like fruit, like a friendship, can bruise.
While Eclipse finds its characters in motion, they often seem restless, searching for growth but requiring contentment. Watkins describes wanting to plant his feet, then his desire to "get away for a while" — his desire for growth, then his anxiety over changing too much. This sense of doubt feels appropriate, considering that Eclipse doesn't prize answers, but exploration: of sound, of self, of nature, of experience.
On Eclipse, Watkins doesn't offer easy or glib answers to the everyday malaise and restlessness he describes; instead, he offers convincing panoramas of setting suns and melting snow, relatable experiences of ease and anxiety, and a provisional space in which to hum along, ponder and perhaps even grow. (Topshelf)