In the imagination of the American winter, after the leaves are stripped from the trees and snow dulls the jagged edges of our immediate surroundings, our perception is sharpened. This is the domain of Adam Faucett.
Faucett's new album, “Show Me Magic, Show Me Out” is a diverse but singular collection of stories, confessions and pleas from a hilltop loner sung with austerity, immediacy and a bit of a smirk. There is aged wisdom in the sound of this music, and the dark, primitive mountain melancholy is lightly punctuated with moments of lush melody.
Faucett's longing is bright-eyed and apologetic, nearly a resignation to sadness. There are hymns of great loves that never were (the mournful and richly harmonious “Amy”) and of self-defeat (the morning-after abandon of “Look Out Below!!”). “Indian Giver” is a banjo ballad of criminal self-righteousness that would chill James Dickey's spine.
But it's the final song, an interpretation of the 1927 lynching of John Carter in downtown Little Rock, that stands out. Told as if first-hand, it's a recount replete with tightly packed metaphors that reduce pages of historical detail to one crisp, hair-raising whisper. To wit, of Carter's head on a pole at Broadway and 9th Street amid rioting Arkansans: “All Broadway on fire, kept alive by a single coal.” The song concludes with a jarring shout followed by a haunting congregational wail of baritone misery. Even the greatest American folk singers would be hard-pressed to leave such a vivid account of the horrific, shameful reality of one of the saddest chapters of American history.