Adam Karch Moving Forward Bros
I admit it. The first thing I did when I slipped this wee little platter into the machine was click on track 9. Who wouldn’t?
Paraphrasing what has been my most frequently written sentence this year, I had never heard Adam Karch before encountering Moving Forward. Therefore, when I saw the words “Werewolves of London” on the back of the album, it was a natural place to start.
Among a handful of original songs, several of which are quite compelling, are a smattering of covers including the aforementioned Warren Zevon classic. Around the same time as we were howling along with Zevon on FM radio, Bob Seger was hitting the charts with “Night Moves,” another song that Karch reinvents as an acoustic-y guitar-based exploration of introspection. Keb’ Mo’s enduring “City Boy” and John Hurt’s “Louis Collins” (soulfully smooth, and still affecting) are also interpreted, providing further opportunity for Karch’s influences to be placed on display.
I understand the desire to include cover songs, even ones as well-known as Werewolves, “Night Moves,” and “Louis Collins.” It allows the performer to share another side of their artistry, and it provides the listener with a measure of familiarity, a way into a recording. And these renditions are smashing—I will be loading them into the iMajig first change I get.
Still, Karch’s original music more than stands with that written by others, and they also warrant inclusion on my mobile device. Now, I don’t imagine “Seaside Venues” is ever going to rival “Hotel California” or “Baker Street” in our collective consciousness, but it is a cool little number, highlighted by astute lyric choices and a nice rhythm section. It is the groove established cooperatively by Karch and his drum-bass combo of Bernard Deslauriers and Marc-Andre Drouin that gives the album its unifying textures and sonic cohesion.
Karch has an excellent voice that is utilized effectively. Moving Forward is solidly within the Americana genre, perhaps leaning closer to the blues end of the spectrum than the country one. However, one wouldn’t be surprised if songs such as “Those Steady Lights” and “On A Cold Grey Sky,” were encountered on a Sam Baker, Leeroy Stagger, or James McMurtry album. With maybe a passing nod to Ray Wylie Hubbard, “Did You Get the Latest News” is an ode to starting again. Dave Alvin could have written “Lil’ Black Dress,” and maybe he has, but here it is all Karch—frustrating himself with memories of a woman recently gone. The set closes with the self-reflection of “Realize You’re Mine,” another song that cuts deeply and personally.
Moving Forward is an excellent introduction to the late-night talents of Montreal’s Adam Karch.