Barry Adamson, formerly of Magazine, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, and Visage, has been consistently producing moody, sometimes sleazy and generally engaging solo recordings since the late 1980s. This year Adamson celebrated Valentine’s Day by releasing “I Will Set You Free,” a 10-song set on his Central Control International label.
The album opens strong with the one-two punch of the rhythm-heavy throbbing bassline of “Get Your Mind Right,” and the almost-anthemic “Black Holes in My Brain” (I can’t recall a song title being repeated this many times since Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”). The album then becomes a bit of a roller coaster, with Adamson jumping back and forth between brighter melodies and darker fare. The high points include “Destination” – not a cover of the classic by The Church – but a track that takes the opposite direction of that song’s slow drone and gives us the fastest, heaviest song on the album, while “The Trigger City Blues” goes from creepy organ and sound effects to a cacophony of fuzz and funk, and back again. The straight ballad “If You Love Her” as well as “The Sun and the Sea” seem primed for mainstream radio.
“I Will Set You Free” won’t please everyone with its somewhat glossy production, its and mix of the funky and the melodic not always coming up a winning combination. But for the fans Adamson has been cultivating for 30 years, the album will probably live up to its title.