London-born but New York-based Adam Masterson represents the timeless ideal of a rock star – classic guitar, tousled hair, vintage shades – yet he does so for the here and now. Embracing old school influences but with copious amounts of spirit and soul added into the mix, he emerges as an outlier built from his own design, bucking trends while simultaneously emanating stadium-size charisma. He has shared stages with the likes of Tori Amos, Amy Winehouse and Stereophonics (in actual stadiums), guested with Patti Smith and Mick Jones (The Clash), while publications such as The Guardian, Billboard and American Songwriter have all gushed with praise about his previous output.
Masterson’s diverse sounding new album, ‘Time Bomb’, is just his second, and it comes a full two decades after his debut (‘One Tale Too Many’). Reflecting both the personal and musical journeys that he has been on over the years, it switches gears several times over the course of twelve songs that are the very definition of eclectic. An energetic Springsteen-style workout on the rousing ‘Wild Wolves’ contrasts with a louche and very British panache on the anthemic and Mott-ish ‘Bring Back The Freaks’, while the Paul Weller meets gospel-soul vibe of recent single ‘Take a Little Love’ is counterbalanced with a Van Morrison-esque laidback atmosphere in ten minute album closer ‘Leaves Against The Sky’.
A memorable title song opens the album, which Masterson explains came about when “I was staying in a studio that had a piano, so composed the song on that. When it came to the chorus I already had an album title in mind so I put the two things together and it immediately gave it some drama. The pressures of time and the way it can assault the the nervous system was something I had been thinking about, although the words are also inspired by other things.”
The recording of the song was made remotely during the pandemic, “a completely new experience and way of working as opposed to tracking live with a group of musicians,” he states. “It put me in complete command and I built it up layer by layer and felt like I was on a roll. I sent the results to Tchad Blake for him to mix it and still remember hearing that for the first time. It really blew me away!”
The video for ‘Time Bomb’ is a collaboration with the filmmaker and photographer Anna Gabriel (Iggy Pop, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel), with Masterson adding: “Anna shot me singing the song with a backdrop and spotlight and we found footage that matched the imagery of the song. The whole process was fun and felt natural.”
A number of guest musicians joined Masterson in the album recording process, including guitarists David Rhodes (Peter Gabriel, Scott Walker) and Leo Abrahams (Paolo Nutini, Regina Spektor), bassists Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Charlie Jones (Goldfrapp, Robert Plant & Jimmy Page) and Brett Bass (Gregg Allman), drummers Charlie Drayton (The Cult, Divinyls), Jeremy Stacey (King Crimson, Ryan Adams) and Omar Hakim (David Bowie, Journey), with Rob Clores (Jesse Malin, Charli XCX) and Ben Stivers (Lyle Lovett, Matchbox Twenty) on piano and Peter Tickell (Sting) contributing mandolin and violin parts.
Masterson produced the album with input from mixera/engineers/co-producers James Hallawell (The Waterboys/Graham Parker), Tchad Blake (The Black Keys, Sheryl Crow), Sean Genocky (The Black Crowes, Richard Ashcroft), Ron Saint Germain (Soundgarden, 311), Dave O’Donnell (James Taylor, Keith Richards), Craig Dreyer (Pete Francis, Dispatch) and Paul Stacey (Oasis, The Black Crowes).
1 Time Bomb
2 Bring Back The Freaks
4 Take A Little Love
5 Run Away
6 Avenue Walk
7 The Kiss
8 Wild Wolves
9 Crazy Rain
10 Rusty Cans And Dusty Alleys
11 Cry With No Tears
12 Leaves Against The Sky