On the dark, cloudy evening of Saturday, September 22, the Winter Visual Performing Arts Center was treated to the first in a series of singer-songwriter performances for the year. Peter Bradley Adams, who was accompanied by violinist Tania Elizabeth during this concert, is a folk-pop artist with a style that seems to be a combination of Dave Matthews, Damien Rice, and John Mayer. Originally part of a folk duo, he has been going solo and writing his own material since 2005 and his songs have been featured in several television shows such as “The Mentalist,” “Smallville,” and “Pretty Little Liars.”
Adams and Tania opened the show with a tender and melodic song about heartbreak called “Katy” and a song that was played during murder scene on “The Mentalist” called “Darkening Skies.” The distorted violin, haunting guitar and grim lyrics perfectly depicted the feeling of death and sadness.
After the first few songs, Adams seemed to loosen up a bit and tell the audience more about himself, both through stories and his own songs. He even recalled how he was arrested for driving unknowingly with a suspended license, only to be let off the hook by the judge, a former Nashville songwriter, after Adams told him that he was a singer-songwriter in Nashville as well. The song that was inspired by this incident, “The Longer I Run,” was a little more upbeat than his previous songs, but dealt with him looking back on his past mistakes and hoping for a chance to redeem himself.
Adams played the next song, “Los Angeles,” on piano, and called it a “farewell to the city” after living there for a while. It was a sentimental, slightly melancholy piece with the peaceful piano and walking pace, but still evoked a sense of relief of leaving the crazy city.
As he prepared for his next song, “I Cannot Settle Down,” he said that “this song goes out to all the single people in the world.” It was a folksy, fun song that expressed both the hope of finding love as well as the stubborn need for independence that any single person could relate to.
However, Adams proved that he could do more than sound like a younger version of Dave Matthews. Two of his songs, one of which he wrote during a snowy day in Brooklyn, sounded very similar to Simon and Garfunkel’s song “The Boxer” as he sang about how he worked and fought for everything in his life, and at points lamented about the hardships of being an artist. Another song, about a gypsy story-teller, had a very mystical, dynamic, almost Fleetwood Mac-esque sound as Tania constantly went from searing to soft on her violin and Adams playing the soothing and folksy acoustic guitar.
Last but not least, he closed the show with “For You,” a soft and heartfelt song that was featured on an episode of “Pretty Little Liars.” Adams is obviously a very talented singer, musician, and songwriter, and though this was the first time he and Tania performed in concert together, they worked off each other and their voices and instrumental parts complimented each other very well. It was a strong first show in a series of singer-songwriter performances to come. The Winter Center plans on having two other guest singer-songwriters this school year, including a performance from an MU alumni.