The global republic of country music has long been ruled by the singer-songwriter – frequently backed by a band, but never truly part of it. Enter East Coast powerhouse Adam Eckersley Band, here to colonise their empire with thundering, shimmering slabs of Southern-influenced rock, swamp, and soul.
With the groove of Jerry Reed, the effortless cool of JJ Cale, the heart and soul of The Marshall Tucker Band, and the outlaw bite of Charlie Daniels, Adam Eckersley Band stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the tightest outfits in the business, from Zac Brown Band to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Armed with a brace of beards to make a lumberjack down tools and run, Adam and the boys are set to launch Phase Two of their irresistible takeover with towering sophomore effort The Second Album.
A one-time touring guitarist with the all-conquering McClymonts, Adam Eckersley is at once consummate showman, bona fide guitar hero, and notably egalitarian bandleader – doling out liberal solo breaks to each of his rock-steady bandmates: bassist Scotty Greenaway, drummer Benny Elliot, and “Arizona” Dan Biederman on keys, Hammond, and Wurlitzer. The band’s fulltime roster now also boasts the multi-talented Duncan Toombs on guitar and banjo.
Tearaway 2013 debut The First Album won some impressive gains for Adam and the band, hitting the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Country Album Chart and peaking at No. 5 on the ARIA Country Chart, while single “Give Her The World” cracked the CMC Video Chart Top 10 before going on to take out first prize in the country section of the 2014 International Song Writing Competition. Crowning it all, AEB snared the Golden Guitar for Best New Talent at this year’s CMAA Awards in Tamworth, before jetting off to Nashville to perform as part of the Global Artist Showcase at country music’s peak industry meet, CMA Fest 2015. Veterans of two Tamworth Festivals, CMC Rocks, and the Gympie Muster, Adam Eckersley Band have undeniable festival cred to back up their impressive rap sheet.
The Second Album was tracked at the world-beating Studios 301 in Byron Bay, with legendary producer-engineer Nick DiDia (Bruce Springsteen, Kasey Chambers, Powderfinger) behind the sound-desk. The record came together in a storm of live tracking, with album sessions capturing several jaw-dropping jams from the preternaturally tight outfit.
“One of the cool things was, half the time we didn’t know we were cutting a track!” Adam recalls. “We’d just start jamming, thinking we were only pulling sounds or warming up, and the next thing Nick would say, okay, come into the control room. He’d just been running red the whole time! He was always working to capture the most natural take for every song.”
The Second Album certainly sees the Adam Eckersley Band take full flight.
“For all of us, that’s what gets us off musically – just going on a sort of journey with dynamic lifts and falls,” Adam says. “If you can jag it so that everyone’s right on the same page and just flowing together, it’s pretty banging. Over the twelve months of playing songs from The First Album live, we started messing around with the standard versions, adding extended jam sessions to them. We really enjoy doing that, so we thought, well, let’s include a bit of that on this new album.”
Reflecting considerable growth in the band’s outlook, The Second Album showcases ideas both new – the inclusion of a string quartet being a stirring example – and time-honoured. It all adds up to a collection of eleven tracks that are emblematic of AEB’s striking versatility, impressive range, and clear camaraderie.
“It covers a fairly broad range of sounds,” Adam says of the album. “There’s definitely some jamming Southern stuff, some straight-up rock sort of songs, a bit of country, and a coupla ballads. I don’t know really how to categorise the whole thing overall!”
It’s also an album penned entirely by Adam and the band – with writing input from DiDia on two tracks – and featuring songwriting on ‘Wheels’ with former Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning, as well as Adam’s wife and fellow vocal power-unit Brooke McClymont.
From the piping organ of its opening bars, first track ‘Live On’ promises something big – and delivers.
With more than one of the boys balancing the rigours of touring and recording against the job of raising infants and toddlers, The Second Album frequently celebrates the warm glow of family life. Classic rock throwdown ‘Talking About Love’ is a timely reminder of the importance of maintaining an emotional connection with our significant other in the face of overwhelming work and domestic responsibilities.
Brooke co-pilots the classic country-folk sway of ‘Comes a Time’, as well as escapist anthem ‘Good Night’ – a hangover waiting to happen sandwiched between pounding drums, tearing lead, and throbbing bass. “Got my liquor in a brown bag, tired boots and tattered jeans,” Adam sings.
True to form, there’s a sweet country-crossover in ‘For You’, soul flavours in ‘Lost Time’, and a honkytonk stomper in ‘Mocha’ – which features some impressive vocal dexterity from Adam, as he considers one of the more confounding innovations of modernity: the proliferation of needlessly complicated coffee orders. ‘Wheels’ is a freewheeling, radio-friendly love song, while ‘Hey Little Daughter’ is a soulful dedication to Adam and Brooke’s daughter Tiggy.
Closer ‘Took That Woman’ is an irresistible parting shot: a seven-minute epic packed to the gunnels with cataclysmic guitar solos, bass lines to make a funk band quiver in their platform lace-ups, doomsday organ, and relentless, merciless drums. The takeover is complete.