Boston born, NYC based punky bluester musician Adam Silvestri finds an intricate and intense genre-blending sound in his musical endeavor Radiator King. And while “punky bluester” might not be a music classification in its own right, you’ll totally understand what I’m getting at once you get into the depths of the punk and blues infused sound in his recent twelve track release A Hollow Triumph After All.
Beginning with keys that sound as though they’re being played during a church service, “After All” introduces this collection of music with a soulful backdrop to the rough, heart-wrenching vocals Silvestri has become known for. It’s the perfect introduction to the concept of the album, which is a telling of situations that mark the passing of time. “It’s this character walking through scenes in his life, experiences he’s had,” Silvestri explains. “He’s searching for something. In the end, he’s sort of depleted, exhausted, recollecting back on life and recognizing that the end destination he sought the whole time wasn’t as important as he thought. Maybe it was all the little moments—drinking with strangers at a roadside bar, falling for a girl in Memphis—maybe these are the beautiful parts of life, and maybe he didn’t pay enough attention to them while they were happening.”
And it all unfolds into “The Guns You Pawned,” existing around the same tempo with more of an old west feel to it, hollow percussion and waning guitar that sounds more like we’re prepping for a saloon showdown at any moment. “Ghost Dance” feels in its robust, vintage feel, yet the tempo picks up and it’s the first toe tapper of the album. “Christmas Eve” follows, and we find more sixties influence layered in to the instrumentals, even if its presence is most notable toward the beginning of the track.
“So Long (Charlie)” more heavily displays contrast between the light as a feather instrumentals and Silvestri’s hard, edgy voice – a song that might be placed in The O.C. once upon a blue moon, if Alexandra Patsavas had her way – while “Second Thoughts In Memphis” reveal Silvestri as a dead ringer talent-wise for Bruce Springsteen. “Murray’s Hurried Blues” brings it back to that southern blues feel – as indicated by the title of the track – and “Someday” follows with its own agenda, a slow crawl of a beautiful ballad.
“Too Mean to Die” makes us feel as though we need to buy a punching bag – immediately – to let go of some intense hidden aggression, while “Underdog” is a lighter, sprawling track perfect to set the tone for a summertime afternoon barbecue. And “Singer of Songs” is a gorgeous, toned down track that really gets at Silvestri’s soft side. There’s slightly less rasp and edge in his voice, allowing for you to quietly be wrapped up in the soundscape like a warm blanket on a breezy evening, bare toes dangling from the chair. He rounds the collection out with “Sammy’s Song”, a particularly bittersweet track, both in the lyrics and “Told me that things would never change / So I sold my red car and I pawned my guitar / for a house with a garden by the bay” in its collective sentiment. Joined by others in the latter part of the track, it feels like a communal Irish drinking song mixed in with bluesy horns and keys that came straight out of the dust bowl. It’s an interesting take on the power community can have in life, and makes you feel a little less lonely as the recording fades out.
A Hollow Triumph After All is available now.