Album Review: Adam Carpenter - Tidal Wave

Words by Maddy Howell

Having spent years honing his talents through commendable festival slots and playing alongside the likes of Kamikaze Girls and Ducking Punches, Welsh singer-songwriter Adam Carpenter is no stranger to the DIY circuit. Now based in Manchester and feverishly building a name for himself within the local scene, Carpenter’s debut album is a quintessential amalgamation of the musician’s triumphs thus far.

With January offering up the release of Carpenter’s fourth EP, ‘Aviation Club’, his debut full-length release presents an impressively swift growth in both songwriting and performance, providing a clear, cohesive exploration through the many avenues of the musician’s brain. Opening on the cordial Endling, the delicacy, and candour that Carpenter has become known for delivering are once again evident, as the humble, winding guitar tones gently lace his words. Though short and sweet, the opener manages to establish the album’s theme of enduring honesty, with its sincerity proving all the more alluring as the album progresses.

With this theme of honesty, a range of other topics become naturally common occurrences throughout ‘Tidal Wave’, all centered around Carpenter’s personal accounts and identity. The queer-positive, slow piano-led opening of the title track tackles topics of long-distance romance and the difficulties that become rife in those situations, similarly discussed on honeyed track Heal. It’s in these moments that it becomes conspicuous just how much of a role openness plays within Carpenter’s music, with his personal approach to songwriting proving charmingly captivating.

The sorrowful energy of Inhale/Exhale presents a switch in focus to that of overwhelming insecurities, and the methods used for coping through periods of hardship. Its poppy, infectiously repetitive chorus provides a dash of hopefulness, testing the waters of a more upbeat tone before the whimsical intro to album highlight No Good Can Come From This. The more powerful, rock ‘n’ roll influence of Carpenter’s sound is on full display, as his amiable Welsh twang spits out the opening lyrics, “May seem like I’m just trying to blend in // That’s not the case anymore // I’m tired of listening to the same song // By a straight cis bloke in a cardigan”.

Though Carpenter is in incredible form when playing his dainty, candid style of acoustic punk, it’s when he sets aside the melancholy notes for a little more of a tongue-in-cheek approach that his talents can be truly recognised. Setting himself aside from the oversaturated folk punk scene, it’s Carpenter’s ability to take fire at the male-domination of the genre that pushes him firmly away from the lazy Frank Turner comparisons and proves him as much more.

Whilst there are points on ‘Tidal Wave’ in which room for improvement can be found, Adam Carpenter’s debut album is crammed full of material which far surpasses the work of many within the current DIY folk-punk scene. With an almost diary-like sense of honesty, he manages to captivate and engage immediately, with tales of mental health and distant love providing a gripping insight into the musician’s mind. Never shying away from tackling important issues and refusing to conform to the norms of an over-cliched genre, Carpenter paints a perfect backdrop for a soon to be flourishing musical future ahead of him.

'Tidal Wave' by Adam Carpenter is available on all digital streaming sites now.

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