I still remember the first time I met Jocelyn Adams in early 2010 during the Low Anthem's final day of recording Smart Flesh. More accurately, I clearly recall the glance Adams shot me when I mistakenly pronounced her name "JO-see" (it's JAH-see, short for Jocelyn).
NOT BORED Adams.
Sipping tea and intently listening to her band's progress through the afternoon, I had her pegged as "the quiet one" of the bunch until I heard her laughter echoing through the enormous pasta sauce factory, her crystal-blue eyes lighting up and giggling with glee upon the sight of her mom and dad, who paid the crew a visit (complete with a tote of homemade chocolate-chip cookies). Her parents likely didn't expect a career trajectory that included a stint as a NASA technician, followed by international critical acclaim as a multi-instrumentalist with one of the hottest indie-folk bands out right now.
Between near-constant tours and other duties with the Low Anthem, Adams somehow managed to pen a gorgeous solo album titled Bed of Notions, released earlier this year (on cdbaby.com and iTunes). She found plenty of support during the recording process, including friends Brigham Brough (of Diamond Doves and Elvis Perkins in Dearland), cellist Robin Ryczek, bassist Ken Woodward (of Annie & the Beekeepers), and vocals from childhood friend Martha Guenther, who will join Adams at this weekend's show at the Met, along with a "surprise bassist."
"I am a lucky girl to have such gems hanging around and am excited to send another creation glittering with those gems out into the world," Adams told me shortly after the album's release in January.
Harmonica, violin, pump organ and, of course, clarinet come into play across the album, but it's Adams's vocals that often steal the show. "I get drunk on you babe/I would drink you all the time," she sings on "I'll Follow You Home," and the solemn clarinet and acoustic guitar on "Darlin" accentuate a pretty line like "10,000 steps out onto the ocean, and I can look back to the shore and see . . . just how much I love you." From the cloaked beauty of "Spindle" to the fairy tale spin on "Chastity" and "Mary Mary," Bed of Notions is pretty darn special.
We caught up with a busy Jocelyn Adams earlier this week following a TLA show in Quebec.
DO YOU PREFER A PARTICULAR SETTING WHILE WRITING LYRICS AND ARRANGEMENTS? Honestly, I don't have any consistent writing techniques or superstitions. Lyrics come from all sorts of places — from absorbing what's swirling around me at that moment. "Civility" was inspired by the Prop 8 shenanigans that were floating around my head for a while, and "Cardboard Condominiums" was vaguely inspired by some observations of a friend's well-intended yet questionable behaviors (we all have some of these, no?). And some of them seem to come just as much from out of the blue as anywhere else, like "Bed of Notions."
DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL FAVORITE ON THE ALBUM? Right now, "Cardboard Condominiums" is my favorite. I think it is lyrically my strongest song on the record and the arrangement on the record is so simple but creates such a unique setting for the song. I like it, and playing it live is also a treat. It's a quiet one, but people seem to latch onto it. I certainly did not expect for that to happen — it's long and wordy.