Adam Cross – Sirens
2011, Adam Cross
2011, Adam Cross
Aiken, South Carolina singer/songwriter Adam Cross has seen his heartbreak. This is evident on Cross’ self-released debut album, Sirens. Whether you take the title as a warning, or perhaps as a treatise on the things that draws us out of ourselves (and sometimes pushes us back in), Sirens is a remarkably mature and subtle disclosure of vulnerability and strength, healing and pain.
Sirens opens with the pure pop rock of “Dance”, a catchy-yet-reserved statement of intent that is the perfect intro to Sirens. Cross has an appealing voice; staying within a comfortable range that doesn’t restrict his ability to deliver a quietly dynamic performance. “A Feeling” is a melancholic reflection on love as faith, in a love that, if not requited, certainly isn’t available. Cross builds the song nicely throughout, growing in intensity through the final bridge before drawing back. “Scared To Pieces” is a love ballad written from a less than tenable romantic position. The smooth, radio-ready chorus is full of sound and sonically appealing. Cross is reminiscent of an edgier Rob Thomas here, both for his sound and for his pop sensibilities.
Cross engages in a confessional style on the stripped-down “Save Me”, punctuating the effort with a jump into his upper vocal register on the chorus. This last leaves him a bit exposed with a sound that’s less than ideal, but the song has great flow and works on many levels. “Time Of Our Lives” is a wonderfully upbeat love song, although the verse has a stilted feel that’s somewhat distracting. The execution here doesn’t quite match the intent, but it’s a solid, pop-friendly effort. “Thursday” is a song of loss, written through the perspective of time, although Cross’ deliberate vocal style offers the impression of a suitor who is choosing his words carefully. He’s still in love, you see, and still pursuing her even if he isn’t certain what it is he wants from the pursuit. There’s a stylistic grace to this song that works, even with its somewhat awkward pace, as he struggles with the competing feelings of love and hatred.
“Burning Castles” wants to a big pop/rock song but never quite lives up to its pretensions. It’s a solid tune, but just never fully becomes. The chorus is mildly catchy, and Cross builds the musical tension appropriately, there’s just never a payoff. “Time Wasted” laments a relationship that didn’t work out, seen again, through the lens of time. This one has a nice, Adult Alternative sound that will play well with radio programmers and fans alike. “Tragedy” finds Cross introducing more of an electronic element into the arrangement. The result is a somewhat uninspired sound that seems ripe for pop radio but fails to live up to either the melodic or creative potential Cross seems to possess. Sirens closes with “Lost”, a six-minute acoustic number that’s among the best on the album. There’s a prayerful melancholy that pervades this number, as Cross laments both a past lost and a seeming lack of future. The chorus is gorgeous and slow, dressed in dark musical timbres.
Adam Cross impresses with Sirens, even if he doesn’t always hit his mark. There’s a distinctive musicality in Cross’ songwriting that has an edgy, Indie-feel, yet a melodicism that pop sensibility that make him accessible to the commercial market. Musical melancholia fans will enjoy Cross’ tales of love lost, just missed or never gained. All of this is delivered without a sense of self-pity, but rather with a clinical eye that has assessed the past and present, and in spite of the pain, taken something of a logical approach to each heartbreak. If Sirens is any indication, there are great things to come from Adam Cross.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)