26 September 2023

About The Soul

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Joe Adhemar, Independent 2022.

Joe Adhemar is an English singer/songwriter who is obsessed with the traditional synth pop sounds of the early exponents of the instrument such as Midge Ure from Ultravox and Vince Clark of Depeche Mode.

Synth pop is not one of my usual go-to genres and yet, I have been drawn to this album by its warmth, depth, creativity and musical intensity.

Joe preferences the traditional synth sounds over the more complex and often weird sounds that many exponents feel compelled to use.

When you play an instrument that offers unending possibilities it’s easy to be tempted to use as many as you can, but this often ends up working against the requirements of the song.

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard potentially good songs buried under layers of unnecessary sound.

For Joe it’s obvious that the song and its requirements are front and centre, not the instrument.

The criticism of excessive use of technology can just as easily be levelled at some guitarists who overuse the options available through modern pedal-banks.

The album opens with Tramp in St Tropez, a track about sitting in a café on the St Tropez waterfront and witnessing two individuals, both at opposite ends of the socioeconomic strata.

It’s a ‘60s psych groove where the synth plays a very understated role, as is the case in the sixth track For Free which has an electric piano underpinning.

On each track Joe uses the different tones of classic synths to obtain the sound he’s looking for.

The title track, About The Soul, uses the natural drum sounds of the ARP 2600.

It’s the instrument that Gary Numan preferred and Good Day For Falling is a reggae track with classic organ accompaniment.

The eighth track is dedicated to one of the greatest exponents of the synth, Giorgio is an ode to Giorgio Moroder.

It’s amazing how the various strands of the melody weave their way through the song.

It’s a beautifully complex and satisfying experience and a wonderful tribute to a musical pioneer.

In many ways what Joe Adhemar has produced in this album is a love letter to the beauty of the synth if it’s adored for its musical, rather than technical, beauty.

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