If the mention of falsetto instantly brings the Brothers Gibb to mind – linked to some hell of a disco inferno – then make the effort to disconnect that image. This review will be using the f-word. On Pearls To Swine Adam Torres sings falsetto and shows what an effective and moving device this can be if handled right. it’s a vocal delivery that takes a few listens o fully tune into, at first it’s just a gloriously thrilling sound that cuts through to the soul like an ice-knife of melancholy. There’s an infinite sadness in this high lonesome sound. And then the words start to cut through, their sudden clarity quite as jarring and it becomes infinitely clear why Adam Torres has chosen to sing this way.
The songs are tied to the earth, there are landscapes, vast landscapes, there are wild elements and there’s gentle rain. And all this vast array of geophysical and meteorological allusion is about human emotions, tiny, but not insignificant, thoughts and feelings. Rain can be a metaphor for great loss and endless separation as on Morning Rain where to a perfect accompaniment of drums and violin Torres sings of being “soaked in the sound of morning rain / soaked in the sound to take away the pain / oh it’s been coming down for a year or more”. Elsewhere there are intimations of mortality – the eerily orchestrated Outlands fearlessly faces the Grim Reaper”I’m not afraid to die / And I’ll cry no tears / As you scan my eyes” whilst the booming Some Beast Will Find You By Name opens, like some nod to Wild Horses, with a plea to “live before I die”.
In the growing ranks of the North American ethereal folk artists – Great Lake Swimmers, Lord Huron, The Lumineers to name a few – Adam Torres has more than staked a claim. Standing on his mountain top, observing the untamed wilderness of the human spirit, he has made a work of lasting beauty that shimmers icily anew with every repeated sunrise. That it is framed so gorgeously by Thor Harris’ conga drums and Aisha Burns’ heart wrenching violin is no accident.
Adam Torres’ album is a haunting affair, it touches the soul with an icy chill but is ultimately a testament to the endurance of the human spirit.