Adam Haworth Stephens needed a break.
After a long recording session and even longer tour to support the Two Gallants’ self-titled 2007 release, Stephens had his own songs he wanted to work on.
“On that tour and in that recording I realized the songs I was writing didn’t seem to fit as much into the whole drums-guitar theme,” Stephens said. “It needed a little something more or less. I didn’t really know at the time.”
He went to work on what would become “We Live on Cliffs,” an album out on Saddle Creek Records Sept. 27. He’s on tour to support the album now, opening for Blitzen Trapper on Wednesday at Lincoln’s Bourbon Theatre.
If you miss Stephens in Lincoln, catch him at the Waiting Room Lounge on Oct. 12.
“We Live on Cliffs” has a folk-rock approach with elements of country and pop thrown in. It’s less driving and rock ’n’ roll than Two Gallants’ last album, but you’ll hear familiar elements, especially Stephens’ voice.
“It’s not crazy, but each song has a bit of a different direction to it. I kinda took it at a song-by-song basis,” he said. “There are some that are more country and mellow, and others that are a bit more aggressive.”
The other Gallant, Tyson Vogel, also has a solo album out now, “Devotionals,” on Alive Naturalsound Records.
To make his album, Stephens worked with producer Joe Chicarelli, who has produced albums by the White Stripes, U2, the Strokes, Elton John and My Morning Jacket, among countless others.
Chicarelli helped analyze the songs and decide how to best approach the songs, Stephens said, adding that his vast experience was enlightening.
Chicarelli was also able to line up musicians including Patrick Hallahan and Bo Koster of My Morning Jacket; Justin Meldal-Johnsen of Nine Inch Nails and Beck’s band; Joey Waronker of R.E.M. and Beck’s band; Cody Votolato of Blood Brothers; Jaguar Love; and others.
“They’re really amazing musicians,” Stephens said about his collaborators.
He had kind words for Chicarelli as well, even though they had their differences sometimes.
“It’s kind of hard to be a songwriter and have someone try to adjust your songs. At times it was kinda hard and we disagreed on some things and tried to find some sort of compromise,” Stephens said. “I learned a ton from him.”
Contact the writer:
444-1557, kevin.coffey @owh.com