Acclaimed guitarist and singer-songwriter James Adkins was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia and currently resides in Ohio. He developed a love for music at a young age, learning how to commandeer the guitar from his father as well as other various performers he met while growing up on military bases all over the world.
Adkins attended college at the University of West Florida, majoring in Jazz Performance. While studying there, Adkins made a name for himself as a club musician around Pensacola. Adkins’ musical journey led him from coast to coast, and eventually he ended up in Virginia where he became the sole songwriter and lead singer of the award-winning Americana band Big Virginia Sky. While embarking on his solo material, Adkins is now currently based out of Northwest Ohio, performing a smattering of Bluegrass, Folk, and Americana there.
Adkins’ latest offering is Brokedown Free Man Blues, a collection of songs that describes a transitory period in the singer-songwriter’s life. A couple of songs were written in Pensacola, Florida where he first started his musical career, and a few were in Tidewater, Virginia where Adkins began to cultivate his sound, others were written in his new home of Northwest Ohio, while others were written on the road in-between.
Brokedown Free Man Blues fully encompasses Adkins journey back to his roots, incorporating a blend of bluegrass, blues, country, Americana and folk.
The album opens up with “Don’t Say Goodbye” with a moving guitar melody jumpstarting this track with an eclectic blend of country and blues with the mandolin, percussions, and drums carrying on in the track. The country-bent song is a melodious melding, about making a stand and letting love mend everything. An epic guitar solo sounds off mid-way into the track.
“Oh Lord Virginia” starts off with some quiet finger-picking on the banjo, as percussions add an energized layer to this song. The vocal harmonies on the chorus give a soaring vibe on this track. The country-twang song is a melding of happening bluegrass, folk and Americana, as traces of strings give this track a lush appeal.
The title track, “Brokedown Free Man Blues,” is a country-bent song intermingled with a touch of blues. The bass adds a rhythmic pulse to the track filled with some dynamic riffs coming from the acoustic and electric guitar. The fervent and fiery energy definitely demands your attention, as it is ill-contained with some gritty blues layers.
“Mountainside” is a slower striding country song that contains some great Americana and folk flavors. A romantic ballad about the love of his life and the great mountainside, the rolling sound gives off a dynamic and dramatic flair.
With “You Are So MINE,” the album takes a turn for change with this upbeat and catchy track that has more of an alternative rock vibe with the sounds of the organ sounding off along with the drumming backbeat, electric guitar, and bass. The great energized sound coming from the instruments create an amped feel as you can really feel the charged cadence coming from the organ as an electric guitar solo sounds off towards the end of the song.
“Ghost” is encased in a somber sound on this slower striding track with a melancholy cadence. The gloomy melody gives off a haunting vibe. The song starts off simply with vocals and the acoustic guitar. The sparse arrangements definitely give off a chilling sound. The acoustic set is fully charged with amped vocals coming from Adkins and that adds a distinctly dynamic feel to the track. Adkins sings with gusto, his voice filled with longing and tinged with regret.
“Hard Road To Go” begins with a high-strung performance on the banjo. The great amped feel from the instrument creates an upbeat and energized soundscape. A sizzling sound could be heard from the strings as well as a bouncing and up-tempo cadence that will be sure to win over listeners and set them in motion. An intricate finger-work on the banjo is prevalent on the song.
On “On My Mind,” a dreamy sound pervades the ballad that immerses listeners in a soulful and rich sound. On this song, Adkins reminisces about the past and wishes he has a second shot with a past love. The mandolin gives a real nostalgic feel and a real ache for what’s already gone. A coalescing of drums, electric guitar, bass, and mandolin give a great soaring feel to the performance.
On “Madly On (Mad Leon),” some stirring strings sound off on this track. The song has a hushed sensibility to it with a rich blend of Americana, blues, and country. The track is reeling with drama. On this highly dynamic song, the melodious sounds coming from the mandolin and the elegant sounds coming from the cello and violin creates an engrossing overarching soundscape.
“Goodbye Trouble” is an upbeat and highly energized track with up-tempo finger-work on the banjo as traces of a bluesy vibe is evident on this song. This is a great country-bent song interwoven with some energized strings.
Break-through artist James Adkins’ award-winning sound separates him from the masses. Adkins’ latest album, Brokedown Free Man Blues, is a deliberate concoction, melded from an electric smattering of genres from blues, Americana, folk, country, and more.
Resplendent with orchestral instruments that give the album a rich and lush texture, Adkins really seems to own his sound on this timeless ode to country-bent blues.
On this original piece of work, the Ohio-based singer-songwriter creates a winning sound paved with genuine and heartfelt tunes.
Be sure you have a listen today!