(Self-released, CD, digital download)
In my five-plus years covering local music for Seven Days, I have rarely come upon an artist as perplexing as Adam Reczek. From his first outing in 2009, The Window Seat, to a 2011 follow-up, The Fork in the Road EP, it was clear that he wanted so badly to be good. But he just wasn’t. That’s not to say he was bad or lacked talent — he doesn’t — or even that all the elements of a good songwriter were completely missing. It’s just that those pieces didn’t quite fit together. Or when they did, Reczek lacked the experience to complete the puzzle no matter how hard he tried. And, oh, how he tried.
Reczek is a gifted guitarist and has displayed a knack — especially on that 2011 EP — for birthing complex and engaging musical ideas. Where he has stumbled in the past is in the vocal department and that has at times overwhelmed Reczek’s assets. But, again, he has worked doggedly to overcome this challenge. And has he finally realized the fruit of his labors? Enter Buttoned From the Bottom Up.
I can honestly say I’ve never rooted as hard for a record to be good the way I have Reczek’s latest. He’s like the Burlington music scene equivalent of Rudy.
So what’s the verdict? It turns out Adam Reczek just might have some Sean Astin in him after all.
While not a triumphant victory that will earn him adoring throngs, Reczek’s third album is indeed charming more often than not. Building on his natural strengths, he’s improved both as a songwriter and a singer. His lyrical skills are nearly a match for his instrumental prowess. And though still prone to occasional awkward phrasing, Reczek’s vocal delivery is sturdy enough to carry the weight of his well-considered words.
On Buttoned From the Bottom Up, Adam Reczek seems to have figured it out. Aided by smartly constructed and often lush arrangements, he sounds more confident and self-assured. Whether delving into Ben Folds-ian piano pop (“Directions”), cooing sweet, late-night, acoustic ballads (“The Perfect Words”) or unloading some old-fashioned, glory-rocking guitar (“Iron”), Reczek seems comfortable in his songwriting skin. Despite a few momentary stumbles, Buttoned From the Bottom Up justifies this musician’s tireless work and admirable determination.
Adam Reczek plays Nectar’s in Burlington this Saturday, November 10.