Americana singer-songwriter Trent Wagler and Indiana-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Jay Lapp announce the release of a new album of neo-traditional old-time and original roots music, entitled Adrienna Valentine. This collection of 14 addictive, surprising, satisfying songs is the third in Wagler’s growing catalog of albums, which includes Journal of a Barefoot Soldier (2005) and Blue Heaven (2006), all recorded by Lapp’s Dojo Records.
Adrienna Valentine is a true duet project, with Wagler’s considerable songwriting skills and Lapp’s versatile musicianship combining in a powerful album that invests new energy in old-time tunes and reintroduces Wagler’s roots-referential lyricism acclaimed by reviewers, fans and fellow artists alike. Upon hearing the title track to this album, “Adrienna Valentine,” Over the Rhine’s Linford Detweiler said, “That’s a perfect song,” and asked if it was recorded yet. The ballad is accompanied on the album by 10 other originals, which maintain intensity and heart through stories of love found, love lost and life’s enduring storms. Wagler’s inspiration is rooted in this country’s natural landscape and legends, from Kansas dust storms to railroad tramps, porch dancing to pure love, Carl Sandberg poetry to the iconic tall tale of steel-drivin’ John Henry.
The unique, vivid sound of the album owes to Lapp’s moveable recording studio; live recordings for the 14 tracks on Adrienna Valentine were captured in numerous locations in Indiana and Virginia. Wagler provides lead vocals and Lapp instrumentals on each track; Wagler plays guitar and contributes percussion on several tunes, with Lapp performing on mandolin, guitar, orchestra bells and lap steel throughout the album.
Lapp, the front-man for Midwestern Americana band Goldmine Pickers, and Wagler, who is based in Virginia and performs with The Steel Wheels, met five years ago and immediately recognized a certain musical synchronicity. Since then, the two performed together from time to time, and Lapp recorded both of Wagler’s albums. Adrienna Valentine launches the two as a duo act, with the energy of playing live captured in a richly layered sound landscape that breaks out of the old-time mold with collaborations on songs that feature gospel singers, a slapping electric bass, a full drum kit, orchestra bells, lap steel, barking dogs and noisy neighbors. But the pulse of the album is beating in the comfortable, urgent voices of Wagler and Lapp, whose harmonies wind a deceptively easy path through poignant musical stories including “Corrine,” “Honey Bear,” “Darlin’ Cory,” “John Henry” and “Adrienna Valentine.”
The album also features guest performers Andru Bemis, a vocalist and banjo and fiddle player from Michigan who is one of America’s true vagabond musicians; Brian Book and Joel Jimenez, bass; Chris Kimmerer, drums; Kelli Austin, Lwan Easton and Corey Bishop, gospel vocals; Kent Beck, accordion; Eric Brubaker, fiddle; and Bean, barking dog.