It follows that Mark Adams stocks his California Bound-titled album with plenty of California-related sounds, whether these be the Byrds-y guitar jangle that appears and then disappears on opener, “She Was Crying,” or some of the more California-esque country music that follows on this satisfying 10-song release. You’ll find sonic pleasure wherever you land on this sometimes state-themed album.
Although Adams opens his album on a few gentle notes, he rocks it up and intentionally stutters during the vocal to the electric guitar-y “Tongue Tide.” Lyrically, this song describes a guy that’s so overwhelmed by the presence of a certain girl, he has trouble even speaking. He mentions how he can write letters expressing how he feels without much trouble, but verbalizing is an extreme challenge whenever this particular girl comes around.
You also must appreciate the self-deprecating sense of humor displayed during “King Of The Hill In Loserville.” Performed over a mostly acoustic arrangement, complete with mocking female backing vocals, this song tells the story of a king – of a sort. Being king of the hill in Loserville is, well, not any king at all. Instead, it’s more about ineptness, instead, and that’s nothing to brag about. Although Adams likes to have fun with his music, he also shows a more serious side now and again. For instance, the two-stepping country of “Unconditional Love” speaks to the importance of unconditional love when it comes to raising children.
If you’re looking for something truly country, just get a load of “Little Old Wine Drinker Me,” which is saturated in steel guitar. It’s also fully saturated in sadness. A sad heart and a liver soaked in liquor are two elements that go together especially well in country songs. Adams sings it like a sad sack who has bellied up to the bar for the long haul. Its sound and subject matter are about as country as country gets. The opposite emotions are expressed through “Loving You The Way I Do.” It takes the outlook of a guy that’s not afraid to ask for help – for most things. The one exception, however, is loving a particular girl. Loving her is something he can handle well all by himself. Adams sings it to a light, clip-clop beat and is a sweet expression of love and devotion.
With “Chasing After Margaritas,” Adams vocalizes over a kind of Tex-Mex groove. Lyrically, he alternates between English and Spanish on this one. It boils down to a border drinking song, and it’s a fun one. The album closes with “Wait Until August.” This one is another gentler track, much like “December Blue,” toward the album’s beginning. The Mark Adams Band doesn’t sing a whole lot of softies. However, in these few instances where the act tamps the sound down considerably, this group is just as appealing.
California is a state with a rich musical tradition. It’s true the studios in Los Angeles are famous for producing some of the world’s biggest pop hits. However, Bakersfield and even dirty old Los Angeles have each given us plenty of great roots music, from Buck Owens, on through to the Blasters. Thus, if the Mark Adams Band is California Bound, it’s most decidedly moving in the right direction.