Regular readers will know that I think Adam Stafford is a bona-fide genius.
My first exposure to his work was when he was part of Y’All Is Fantasy Island, an indie band I first came across around 2007 when playing with the likes of The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit. I really had high hopes for the band, but they broke up in 2011 without ever gaining much in the way of commercial success.
But it’s been Adam’s work as a solo artist that has continually got me excited. As I said in one of the many previous posts I’ve written about him, the first few times I saw him live in the solo setting left me completely in awe of what he was doing, as the sounds coming from the stage were equally bewildering and bewitching. It was all down to his highly clever and imaginative vocal and instrumental looping. It was, and has remained ever since, an extraordinary experience.
I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve become good friends with Adam over the years. I don’t just admire him as a musician or creative talent, but he’s incredibly down-to-earth and a wonderful person to sit down with in the pub and talk about all sorts of things. So, when he mentioned he was gearing up to issue a ‘best of’ compilation, I of course said I’d put something up on the blog.
Adam has called the collection Pop’s Lowly Status, Here’s how it is described on his Bandcamp page:-
Over the ten or so years Adam Stafford has been releasing solo recordings, it is hard to establish an entry point due to the often overwhelming amount of prolific output from the native of Falkirk, Central Scotland. Certainly, a lot of those albums, EPs and collections of Film Soundtrack works (not to mention previous group Y’all is Fantasy Island) have leaned towards the more experimental, minimalist, lo-fi, instrumental and electronic side of the musical spectrum.
But what about Adam Stafford as a Pop artist (in the loosest of terms)? A songwriter of impeccable craft and style able to conjure melody, hooks and harmony out of the mystical melch hat?
Here is a kind of `Best Of’ of that side of Stafford, an Introduction for the uninitiated – a Primer to discover one of Scotland’s best and underrated song craftsman and a chance to unearth some of the finest songs you’ve never heard.
From the explosive acoustic Surf Pop of `Fire & Theft’, to the beautiful, lilting lament of `Ghostly Arms’, the a Capella Alt Soul-Pop of `Shot-down You Summer Wannabes’ to the aching, thrumming ballad `Please’, which imagines a band like Low covering Roy Orbison – the sheer amount of incredible earworms are collected here for the first time, ripe for new discovery.
The thing is, I’ve long planned an Adam Stafford ICA….indeed I had an idea in my head that I’d approach him to see if he fancied coming up with one as a guest posting or perhaps one we could write together. But this 16-song collection more than does the trick. Here’s its opening track, from the 2011 album Build A Harbour Immediately
mp3: Adam Stafford – Fire & Theft
The next track on the compilation, Cold Seas, was originally released on the 2013 album Imaginary Walls Collapse, a record which would be long-listed or the Scottish Album of The Year award (and should have won it in my humble opinion). Here’s a live session version:-
That album was his first of four releases on Song, By Toad Records, the much-loved and much-missed Edinburgh-based label owned and run by Matthew Young (another genius to whom the Scottish music scene owes a huge debt). As part of the promo efforts for the 2016 album Taser Revelations, the lead-off single was afforded a quirky and enjoyable video:-
Phantom Billions just happens to be the third track on Pop’s Lowly Status, and tempting as it is to take you through the remaining thirteen songs, I’ll instead offer up the chance to listen to one of Adam’s newest recordings, a digital only single from a few weeks ago:-
mp3: Adam Stafford – Crushed Steamroller
It’s also on the new compilation, the full details of which can be found on Adam’s Bandcamp page.
Here’s the thing. Adam has made Pop’s Lowly Progress as something you name your own price for. I’ve had a chat with him, and we have come to an agreement that I can pay for five digital copies of the album to give away to readers of this blog. He actually was happy to offer them free of charge, but I insisted otherwise.
Oh, and what I didn’t tell Adam is that one of those five digital copies of the album will be accompanied by a full digital discography of his solo work, a collection which is on offer for just over £50.
So…..if you fancy having the chance of being a recipient of Pop’s Lowly Progress, courtesy of The Vinyl Villain, then just go to the comments section for this post and tell me which Scottish town is home to Adam Stafford. It’s really that simple……
THE COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED AND ALL WINNERS HAVE BEEN CONTACTED.
12 thoughts on “POP’S LOWLY STATUS”
I want to say Bellshill (it’s early and I’m in an impish mood) but instead I’ll be sensible and say Falkirk.
I confess I haven’t delved into Adam’s work – merely skimmed the surface and I have done that largely due to this blog.
I think what I admire most is that he continues to do what he does – despite that hiccup of some years ago. The music world needs mavericks and Adam is certainly that.
To JC- I hope your holiday provided the requisite rest and enjoyment.
Reckon the answer is Falkirk. Would be really interested in this as I am not savvy with his work. But even if I don’t win, your article has made me want to look into his work. All the best.
Falkirk! And if I don’t win, I’ll be adding this one to my Christmas list anyway…
“Let a Little Love Inside”. Wow! Fantastic Falkirk.
Falkirk Must be something good in the water there – David Scott from The Pearlfishers is a Falkirker too.
He’s a bairn, from Falkirk. As Padraig says above something in the ether through there, lots of good stuff from that small town (most notably Malcolm and Aidan).
Falkirk. I got into a google rabbit hole awhile back when doing a search on Elizabeth Fraser.
Adam is based in Falkirk (who sadly have just gone 1-0 down to Dundee as I type this) but is he not a Mackem originally?
100% correct JB………
Lovely stuff and he’s based in Falkirk. Thanks!
So the question becomes…Is the correct reply to be Mackem or Falkirk? Reckon I’m covered either way!
I’ve found Adam’s work to be intriguing, irritating, inspired, boring, mysterious, obvious, banal, original, and many other contradictory adjectives. I’ve never regretted opening one of his mp3s. A true artist.
Pleasant Surprise opening my emails this morning! Thanks, JC and AS! Something to pop onto the headphones for the daily walk!