Review: Adam Naylor, Lost in a Rhythm
Adam Naylor, Lost in a Rhythm
Adam Naylor is not a newcomer to recording. The Scottish singer/songwriter, who was born in Falkirk, Scotland in 1990 but now lives in Edinburgh, recorded his first album, Time Will Tell, in 2007. That release was followed by Naylor’s second album, Going Places (2009), The Strike of a Chord, in 2011, and Lost in a Rhythm (his fourth album) is an early 2016 release.
In Scotland and Ireland, it is not hard to find singer/songwriters who combine pop-rock or folk-rock with a strong Celtic influence. In those countries, it is not uncommon for musicians to be as influenced by traditional Celtic music (be it the Irish variety or the Scottish variety, or a combination of the two) as they are by Bob Dylan and Neil Young. But Lost in a Rhythm is not especially Celtic-sounding. One hears traces of a Scottish accent in Naylor’s vocals on introspective adult alternative/folk-rock offerings such as “Never Enough,” “Over the Horizon,” “Morning Light” and “The Final Step,” yet in terms of the songwriting, much of Naylor’s influence comes from North America.
Listening to “Directions,” “We’re on Our Way” or “It Makes Your Eyes Light Up,” one hears the direct or indirect influence of North American singer/songwriters such as James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Harry Chapin and Jesse Winchester. Naylor is only 25, but the fact that he didn’t come into the world until the early 1990s does not prevent him from having a strong appreciation of the singer/songwriters of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. From “Losing My Desire” to “Have a Go” to “The Answer,” Naylor obviously enjoys a lot of singer/songwriters who were popular before he was even born. And that is a good thing. There is no reason why Naylor should not be influenced by singer/songwriters of the past even though he is performing and recording in 2016.
It is quite possible for a musician to use electronic programming to achieve an adult alternative or folk-rock sound. It is certainly possible for musicians to use synthesizers and programming even though in terms of melodies and songwriting, they are influenced by artists who operate largely or entirely in the acoustic realm. But Naylor does not favor a high-tech production style on Lost in a Rhythm. In fact, his acoustic guitar does a great deal to shape the sound of this album.
Naylor’s acoustic guitar is right up front on “A Controlled Illusion,” “Before I Knew,” “Never Enough” and other songs on this album. And he plays it in a jangly fashion, which is appropriate for someone who draws direct or indirect inspiration from old-school singer/songwriters like Taylor and Winchester. Naylor’s songwriting style and his jangly acoustic guitar sound natural together.
Lost in a Rhythm is by no means an album of escapist party music. The album has a consistently serious and introspective tone, and at times, Naylor’s lyrics can be on the melancholy side. Certainly, the word “melancholy” comes to mind when Naylor is performing “Losing My Desire,” “The Answer” or “Before I Knew.”
But then, there is no law stating that music is obligated to push the smile button 100% of the time. Darker emotions and feelings of melancholy are certainly valid for artistic expression, and Naylor’s willingness to let his more melancholy thoughts come through in his lyrics is not a bad thing.
One should never underestimate the impact that language has on music. People in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales speak the same language as people in the United States and most of Canada. So English-speaking singer/songwriters in the British Isles often listen to English-speaking singer/songwriters from North America, and vice versa. One could say that North America and the British Isles have had a mutually beneficial relationship when it comes to singer/songwriters, and for Naylor, the influence of classic North American folk-rock yields generally decent results on Lost in a Rhythm.
Review by Alex Henderson
3 stars out of 5