Adam Wakefield’s Gods & Ghosts is the official sound of the Nashville underground. A multi-instrumentalist, the Plymouth, N.H. native has an originality that exemplifies the greats, including Leon Russell and Levon Helm.
When Wakefield held his album release party in November at Nashville’s revered Station Inn, despite a power outage that affected an entire block in the Gulch, everything went right. He has a clear voice that needs no amplification, and he’s arguably one of the most consistent performers to come from the community in recent memory. His talent stands on its own.
He blew the room away with his soulful originals about cheap whiskey and bad cocaine, as well as his hardcore country songs about appreciating what you have as opposed to getting lost in what you want. They’re all songs he’s lived as a rising artist.
He says the third verse in the title track was the hardest to write because it references his brother’s death. He sings, “As much as I’d like to, I could never forget; The days before my older brother left; You probably think that were never all that close; ’cause I don’t talk about him, but I miss him the most; There’s just some sides of me that I’ll never show to anyone but gods and ghosts.”
“I tried to write a bunch of different third verses, but they didn’t hold up, so I just went with it,” Wakefield says. “I think it works for me because I said ‘left’ instead of ‘died.’ So, it could be interpreted as if he moved away or something less dramatic and self-serving.
“I asked myself what gods and ghosts had in common, and the most obvious thing for me was that people talk to both gods and ghosts about things they sometimes can’t talk about with living people. The poor man’s therapist, if you will.”
Get to know Wakefield in his own words below.
I think songwriting is like comedy. Everything is fair game. Whether you do it tastefully is another story. I think truck songs and break-up songs could probably hit the bench for a while though.
I don’t think being unique was a realization for me; more of a goal.. Every singer, artist and writer is a nature vs. nurture version of their influences and background; culturally and musically. The ones I have control over, I try to pick deliberately and objectively. As far as talent goes, I think “talent” is somewhat of a euphemism for hard work. Maybe some folks came out of the womb singing their asses off. I can assure you, I did not. I spent a long time sounding like garbage.
When someone recognizes themselves in my music, it’s the highest form of flattery. When writing a song, the goal is to take a message (the lyrics) and combine it with a medium (the music), to invoke emotion in another person. So, when that happens, you know you did something right. I love it when the same song affects people differently. Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” is a good example of that.
The best advice I’ve received so far is music fulfills. Everything else that comes with it just entertains.
My first gig in Nashville was playing house keys for the Soulshine Family Band at Soulshine Pizza. A friend of mine told me to stop by once I’d moved here. I walked in and jammed with the band, and they offered me the gig that night. It doesn’t normally work like that, but their keys guy had just told them he was moving back to Mississippi. I met the majority of my musician buddies through that gig. I was very lucky.
The last musically sacred thing I’ve done was play Aretha Franklin’s version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with Mike Farris at the Franklin Theater. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time. Being a white kid from New Hampshire, it was the closest thing to gospel music, unbeknownst to me at the time, that I had been exposed to. I obsessed over that song and to play it with that 12-piece band just like the record was a spiritual moment for me.