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EP Review: Dear Adamus – Afterlight

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Some days of light rain are marred by off-green skies and murky air–tell-tale signs of an unpleasant storm on the horizon, which sometimes amplifies states of heartbreak, confusion, and general distress. However, other days may prove quite healing in low times; their sole activity consists of that gentle drizzle pattering against the window pane, and nothing more.

For those decidedly pleasant rainy days, the Afterlight EP by Virginia Beach trio Dear Adamus makes for ideal accompaniment. Sure, its short length will only fill out a portion of the day, but that portion will be far from scant. The predominant acoustic nature it emits is uplifting in some aspects, settling just as well as earlier, slightly heavier efforts. Vocalists Raytheon Dunn and Chris Wilkens—in their respective roles as guitarist and bassist—reprise their rotating vocal duties often within the same song, which still present sufficient distinction. Each of the four tracks’ involvement throughout the EP is certain to make the listening experience worth it for regular fans, as well as for new ones like myself.

Continuing from their self-titled EP is “Chapter 2: The Afterlight”. There’s a sense of vulnerability in Dunn’s finger-picked style of playing. In a thematic sense, the soul is departing from its physical body, but rather than progress directly into heaven, it seems to have gone into a bleak limbo (“For all that I know, where will I go?/Nothing is vivid or clear, I can’t see nor hear”). Once the third verse is reached, the perspective centers on the body as it lie motionless in a casket, with its identity now existent in a higher place. The simultaneously sung contrasting viewpoints for the remainder of the song resemble a mind disparaged in uncertainty. Conversely, “Somber Face,” the track to follow, refreshes the vibe with a warm and positive chord progression. This was actually my introduction to Dear Adamus. As I began moving the EP’s tracks into my iTunes library, I was sold simply by this track’s tone and string resonance. Listening further, I made note of how both vocalists’ qualities as they sang each verse: Dunn is dark and subdued, while Wilkens is brighter and defined. The combined entrance of the bass and harmonic lead/rhythm melodies produced an entrancing effect. I also appreciated how each verse’s refrain was subtle in its call-and-response exchange between Dunn and Wilkens (I cannot detain/The thoughts that I obtain … I cannot detain/the thoughts that you proclaim”. That element is reinforced on “I’m Your Audience” in a more traditional vein, but is executed equally well. Based on the title itself, the feel is a lot more lighthearted. The song’s chorus, which contains the title, is a clever representation of how it feels to be locked in a tangent while futilely attempting a smooth conversation. Along the 2:54 mark, the tempo slows down, transforming the entire mood into one of solace and warmth. As that phase progresses, the involved combination of guitar and gradual synth pads enhances the song to its full potential. The final track, “Llewellyn,” plays as the EP’s grand finale, featuring full-band instrumentation. It has a really underground aesthetic, somewhat deviating from chiming pop sensibilities and instead channeling early 90s emo. By this point, Dunn and Wilkens exhibit free rein in their vocal styles, roaming in unified rawness throughout the song. Its two verses—one acknowledging the fickleness of conditional behavior, the other an indirect confession of ignorance—play as a summation of emotions, and bring about genuine and opportune closure to the EP.

Overall, Afterlight served as more than a simple mood booster on a fair day. It succeeds as a follow-up in its ability to be concise, while simultaneously poignant and substantial. I’m interested in knowing whether Dear Adamus will use these songs as potential cuts for a full-length album, and this is further proof that they are fully capable of doing so.

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Highlight track: “I’m Your Audience”

Compositions
Breaking Ground
Engagement
Lyrical Voice
Production

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About Jake Kussmaul

I come from a family who is passionate about all things music. I learned to sing at an early age, and by 13, had my very own Fender Strat guitar. I tried my hardest at learning all that I could. Because I was born with cerebral palsy, I had to teach myself an adaptive playing style. I learned to write and record my own music, despite these difficulties. In college, I started making great use of my writing abilities by reviewing music, as well as copy editing. I guess it's best to stick with what you know, while welcoming a fair challenge at the same time.

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