1adam12

The Vanguard

2ADAM12’s Self-Titled Debut Album Sizzles

” Don’t stand still when you can move and dance,” 2Adam12 lead singer Adam Payne sings on the group’s debut album. After giving the quartet’s music a listen, it should not be very difficult to put these words to action.

For those ignorant of the Bentley music scene over the past several years, 2Adam12 is the band of the Multicultural Center’s Assistant Director Adam Payne. Formed just two years ago, Payne (vocals, guitar), Adam Dehner (guitar), Mik Mersha (bass), and Mark Purrington’s (drums) blend of R&B, funk and rock has been a staple of the Boston music scene. While the band’s sound has evolved from its humble beginnings as Payne’s sparse acoustic tunes, it’s only now that the quartet has been able to hit the studio and commemorate their hard work.

The self-titled debut is a musical manifesto for the band’s huge sound. Though many of the tracks have been standards on Payne’s acoustic sets for years, they have never been played on such a grand scale. The album features a slew of embellishments that brings each track to its highest level. From the chilling Hammond organ on “Passive Aggression” to the ultra-funky horn ensembles on the “If You Want to Love Me,” the album utilizes every available tool to heighten the band’s sound. While many tracks features guest spots from outside musicians, most of the band’s complexity comes from its core.

Dehner concocts fantastic leads by channeling classic blues playing with a contemporary twist, Purrington never misses a beat on the skins, and Mik Mersha heightens each song with his simple, crisp bass tone. And then there is Payne who loses none of his patented vocal exuberance in the studio. Whether singing falsetto on “I Will Wait for You” or delivering hip-hop lines on “Totally Hands-Free Man,” Payne takes charge of each track.

None of this is to suggest that this is only a group of musical technicians. At the heart of the album, underneath all of the instrumentation, are Payne’s soulful songs about life, love, and relationships. Though many of his lyrics are rather deep, he also has a knack for ironic humor. On “The Way it Goes” he sings, “You see every day is a little bit different whether you are eating caviar or a basket of chicken.”

2Adam12 can be proud of their first album, which they will be promoting during their upcoming gigs. Though the group isn’t for the musically meek, there is plenty here for most music fans to appreciate. Clearly this is a band that is in control of their gifts. It was Stevie Wonder who once famously said, “Ya gots to work with what you gots to work with.” In the case 2Adam12 there seems to be no shortage of these musical tools.

-Patrick Walsh

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