LA-based noir songwriter Eve Adams talks about “making something beautiful out of something tragic” on her album Metal Bird, previously in our FEBRUARY 2022 issue of Uncut, available to buy here.
For as long as she can remember, Eve Adams has been drawn to the darkness on the edge of town. In her tender torch songs and fatalistic folk-noir ballads, the singer-songwriter inhabits an intoxicating twilight zone of romantic ruin and dreamy despair. Love is tortuous and fleeting, bluesy heartache just around the corner, and death forever lurking in the shadows.
Growing up between her mother’s family farm in Oklahoma and her father’s LA base, Adams came to music young. “I’ve always loved to sing, since I was a little girl,” she says. “The first song I wrote was when I was around 12 and it was called “I’ve Seen It All”, which I find pretty funny. It’s so incredibly sad and I don’t know where the hell it came from! At that point I hadn’t experienced anything traumatic, I had a great childhood. But even then I was fascinated by the darkness.”
On her latest album, Metal Bird, Adams is processing real grief and loss rather than macabre juvenile yearnings. The title was inspired by the frequent plane journeys the singer undertook during the LP’s gestation, travelling from her then-home in Montreal to deal with a family tragedy in LA. Flying for her came to symbolise the liminal state between life and death. “There is something heart-wrenching about flying,” she offers. “You’re participating in this long history and mythology of mankind’s dream to take to the sky, to overcome the gravity of the earth, to be as free as a bird. That resonated with me at a difficult time.”
Adopting a knowingly retro aesthetic that recalls Lana Del Rey or Julee Cruise at times, Adams conjures up swooning, love-damaged narrators in her songs, who could have stepped out of a vintage film noir. Indeed, she cites Marlene Dietrich’s elusive temptress Concha Pérez in The Devil Is A Woman (1935) and Isabella Rossellini’s tormented femme fatale Dorothy Vallens in Blue Velvet (1986) as key inspirations. “Sometimes I feel like I don’t really belong in this era. I’m sure a lot of people feel that way nowadays, though – these are hard times.”
This cinematic mood also extends to lustrous monochrome videos and stylish sleeve artwork for Metal Bird, designed by Adams herself. “My music is inspired by visual art and my visual art is inspired by music, so it’s a nice little ouroborus.”
Metal Bird nudges Adams deeper into classic country-folk Americana than her lightly experimental early albums, In Hell (2017) and Candy Colored Doom (2019). “I wrote most of In Hell while I was 18 and 19, and I feel like it was coming from a much darker and sparser place,” she explains. “As I’ve grown and stepped into womanhood, the music has changed with me.”
Long before the family trauma that inspired Metal Bird, Adams was writing songs filled with darkness. Accepting that loss and grief are universal experiences, she says, is strangely consoling. “Death is universal and I have never wanted to shy away from it. I remember when I got my driver’s licence, I started to photograph roadkill. I’d see a dead skunk or deer and have to pull over to take a picture. I’d have this initial feeling of grief, then I’d transform that into an act of remembrance, making something beautiful out of something tragic. People thought I was a freak, ha! Music is the same kind of process for me. It starts with a feeling and becomes a need to turn it into something else, like an alchemist.”
Metal Bird is released digitally by Basin Rock now.