Review: Adam Gnade – “Run Hide Retreat Surrender”

“It is winter again and you are fighting with your woman.”

So begins the sprawling and sometimes stream-of-consciousness narrative Adam Gnade unreels on this Loud + Clear Records disc, a surprisingly resonant pseudo-update of On The Road for the lo-fi singer-songwriter set.

What’s amazing about the CD is just how much that narrative drives it forward, how the unadorned spoken-word recording of Gnade’s tale of turmoil, flight and discovery can hold your attention through a revolving landscape of spare guitar passages and noisy asides. Gnade’s story — which, loosely speaking, details a cross-country journey punctuated with relationship woes and observations about a broken world — is at its best when he manages to hit the little details: the aging, bearded men yearning for their youths while tossing back cheap 7-Eleven coffee, the work-nightmares that break with cold sweats, the smell of dead horseshoe crabs on a Florida beach.

“Dance To The War,” an urban-landscape dirge with a groove, is the record’s most song-oriented offering and also the best summary of Gnade’s rapid-fire approach. In it, he jumps from alcohol-soaked descriptions of Brooklyn and platitudes about needing to keep riding the nation’s highways to a news-collage about Iraq and the Middle East without skipping a beat.

By the last minutes of the closing title track, you almost wish Gnade never discovered the story’s ending. – Punk Planet, March/April 2006

About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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