The new full-length from Adron, Water Music is a love letter to the ocean, a defiantly joyful look at escaping the gravity of land. With her transcendent melodies and luminous voice, the Atlanta-bred singer/songwriter dreams up a Tropicália-inspired sound whose graceful intensity and subtle depth reflect every nuance of her ever-shifting emotional state. Through it all Adron reveals herself as an artist with the courage of mind to exist on her own plane, and the force of imagination to expand any listener’s sense of possibility.
The follow-up to Organismo—a release that Wilco named among their favorite new albums at the time—Water Music centers on elements signature to Adron’s sonic palette: an airy yet commanding vocal presence, a kaleidoscopic guitar style shaped by Brazilian luminaries like Luiz Bonfá and Caetano Veloso. Produced by her longtime collaborator Martin Kearns at his Atlanta studio Down in Deep, the album also finds Adron mining ’70s-soul as a heavy influence, broadening her role as a bandleader and composing the album’s elegant horn arrangements.
In recording Water Music, Adron assembled a lineup of musicians mostly selected from the ATL Collective—a local outfit she’s joined in covering classic records by Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder at venues around town. With Adron taking a more deliberate, meticulous approach to production than she’s ever attempted before, the album ultimately unfolds with a certain orchestral splendor, even in its quietest and most intimate moments.
An exploration of water as both sanctuary and source of transformation, Water Music came to life at a time when Adron was “overwhelmingly and irrationally obsessed with aquariums,” and bought two for her home. “After a while I started to have dreams where something bad was happening to my aquariums,” she says. “Like there’d be fish that weren’t supposed to be in there, or an aquarium was overflowing, or the fish were jumping out. It became like a catch-all symbol for whatever anxiety I was having, or whatever psychological stuff I was trying to unpack.”
Built on a brightly textured sound that often feels beamed in straight from 1975, Water Music opens with “Be Like the Sea,” a full-blown pop fantasia that instantly sweeps you into the more serene rhythm of Adron’s world. She notes, “I envision ‘Be Like the Sea’ almost like a musical number on The Muppet Show, maybe with Harry Belafonte doing a cameo in a sailor hat.” While much of the album shares that track’s dreamy mood, Adron slips into a wistful romanticism on songs like “Your Habitat,” a softly groove-driven ode to an old love. “It’s about wishing I could carve out a little pocket in time and space, and just inhabit that with him,” Adron says. And elsewhere on Water Music, Adron seamlessly drifts from the soulful determination “Soldier On” (as in “It’s all right to soldier on/It’s all right to write a throwaway song”) to the lovestruck bliss of “Home in Human Form” (featuring Beatlesy backing vocals from Nashville-based all-male pop band The Shadowboxers) to the harmony-laced and hypnotic reverie of “Ma Mer” (a song delivered in French, showing Adron’s finesse as a self-described language geek).
Woven throughout Water Music are Adron’s sweet-as-birdsong whistled melodies. A champion whistler who’s challenged Andrew Bird to a duel on several occasions, she owes her skills in part to a broken front tooth she’s busted twice: once on a playground in Hong Kong as a kid, the other while sipping from a hard-plastic straw at age 14. “I snuck into my mom’s liquor cabinet and made a drink I invented called Nickelodeon Slime, which is melted lime popsicle and orange juice and whatever clear liquor I could find,” Adron says. “So I was drinking that and playing computer games, and the straw knocked that old piece of fake tooth right out. After that I was just like, ‘Fuck it, this is how my face looks now.’”
Mostly raised in Atlanta, Adron began playing guitar at age 12 and writing her own songs at 13, then had a life-changing breakthrough after haphazardly buying an Os Mutantes album when she was 14. Immediately drawn to Tropicália’s oddball collage of shapeshifting musicality and Dadaist lyricism, Adron quickly adapted her guitar-playing to fit the genre’s sensibilities and taught herself Portuguese in order to master the lyrics. “I love that it’s so bright and whimsical and psychedelic, but it’s also so fierce and uncompromising,” she says of Tropicália. “It’s like punk rock but in the most delicious, sunshiny form you can imagine. The whole mantra of it is basically like, ‘Joy is beautiful.’ I just wanted to dive into it like a swimming pool.”
After making her self-titled debut in 2008, Adron released her self-produced Burdwurld EP in 2009. With Organismo arriving in late 2011, she hit a major milestone in 2013 when she opened for Os Mutantes in Atlanta and sang with the band during their encore—then received an invitation to join their lineup on tour. “The whole tour ended up falling apart through some mysterious circumstances, but it was still one of the craziest things that’s ever happened to me,” says Adron. “I almost joined my favorite band of all time!” Over the years she’s endlessly earned admiration from her fellow musicians, with her past experiences including collaborations with artists like Helado Negro, Prefuse 73, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, and Yeasayer’s Jason Trammel. Most recently, she opened up for Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, who was so taken with her performance that he spontaneously asked Adron to accompany him for two additional tour dates.
Now based in L.A., Adron hopes for Water Music to grace listeners with a sense of wonder similar to what she discovered in Tropicália. “Mostly I want to leave people with a feeling of connection to love and nature and water, a kind of lightness,” she says. “There’s a Brazilian word called saudade that’s hard to translate in English, but it sort of means nostalgia and romance but a little bit ouchy in the heartstrings—but then also with a feeling like an ocean breeze. I’d really love for my music to make people feel like that.”www.adronmusic.com/