Adam Hachey is a brilliant and underappreciated song writer whose talent has been lauded by Backseat Mafia since almost our inception when he emerged with the band Meesh, creating a genre of what he termed anti-folk. His songwriting is in fact folkish, but with an indie pop sensibility and a more layered and rich approach. Meesh in time turned to Tunnel Traffic – more of Hachey’s direct imprint but with the same glowing song writing craft.
Whereas the last album from Tunnel Traffic, ‘Age of Convictions’ (reviewed by me here) heavily featured the vocals of collaborator Jacky Muñoz, ‘Take My Power’ features Hachey’s vocals. Hachey says of the work:
‘Take My Power’ explores my thoughts/emotions whenever my mental health reaches a low point. Oddly enough, I wrote all the lyrics before the pandemic and have been making slow progress on recording and production the past year. I’m extremely grateful that everyone close to me is still doing okay, but like a lot of people, I’ve had a rough time in this pandemic mentally. I think it helped that what I was experiencing was already, to some extent, articulated and processed on this album beforehand.
I’m back on vocals. Several of the songs were written to/about Jacky and the rest were personal to me, so it didn’t feel right to have her sing this time.
Opening track and single, ‘Next to Me;’ is a powerful slow burning fuse with Hachey’s voice low and sonorous filled with loss and regret, with sweeping strings that create a brilliant base. It is an unadorned, brittle and delicate paean to a muse, with the crisp crunch of sparkling acoustic guitars.
There is a satisfying tension between the deeply melancholic instrumentation and vocals with the fulsome lyrics of love and adoration:
i hear her heart beating.
it recognizes the stakes.
her sincere hands of healing
are resting here on my face.
Hachey’s delivery and poetic lyrics illuminate the skies.
‘Closer’ picks up a little speed with crisp, chiming guitars rumbling under Hachey’s evocative, dreamy vocals and glorious melodies and harmonies. Frail and vulnerable, this is a gorgeous track underpinned again by strings that form a heavenly backdrop as well as the surprising entry of a whistled refrain that creates a tension between the yearning air and the bright refrain.
The layers of instrumentation play hide and seek with expectations: Hachey’s honey gold vocals in ‘Truth’ are intertwined with a crunchy, gritty guitar/bass, rippling acoustic solos.
And if it’s sixties-infused pop you like, ‘Gets Me Out’ delivers with its bright, boppy pace and wall of chiming guitars that recalls The Dandy Warhols, Teenage Fanclub or REM. In contrast, ‘Cannot’ has a choral, reflective, psychedelic and medieval thrum about it: mesmerising and transfixing, punctuated by a rambling guitar that creates a dissonance.
‘Hear Myself’ breaks your heart with its beautiful melodies and expansive spaces. The repeated line – I cannot hear myself – evokes a sense of isolation in amongst the crowds.
The title track captures the themes of the overall album – self doubt and selfism. Thoughts of anxiety so eloquently expressed:
I struggle to make it, do I deserve it? if I’m being honest, I don’t want it. I can’t get a foothold, floating in limbo forever, followed by my shadows.
The track floats on a bed of strings and strumming guitars and has an incandescent glow.
‘Wishing Well’ illustrates Hachey’s versatility: a shoegaze drone creates a wall of sound, his voice back in the mix and a melodic bass creating a vibrant spine. This evokes the classic sounds of Ride: bittersweet melodies swimming just under the surface of pulsating guitars. ‘Through the Day’ in contrast has a bubble gum pop sheen that is undercut by the dark lyrics about the difficulty in getting motivated, and which fittingly ends in a series of false, uncertain stops.
‘Don’t Apologise’ has a Simon and Garfunkel sparkle as Hachey displays his unrelenting romanticism, and ‘Only’ is a mesmerising track that is immersive and enthralling.
Final track, ‘My Worth’ ends the album with yet another sparkling and enchanting elegy to self-doubt, yet with a hint of stoicism and a touch of optimism – I breath deeply and completely.
I search for words for a lifeline to say goodbye to these confines.
Tunnel Traffic displays a stadium filling pop creativity matched with an intelligence and subtlety: craftsmanship that folds together the genetic codes from a range of artists from Coldplay to REM, from Sufjan Stevens to The Dandy Warhols, from Simon and Garfunkel to Ride.
‘Take My Power’ is an extraordinary album. It is filled with themes of uncertainty and anxiety and yet is suffuse with a gilded tone and a sense of resilience. The music is lush and rich, the melodies powerful and anthemic and the delivery is golden and melancholic. This is a truly beautiful work of art that should be heard around the world, and it beggars belief that Tunnel Traffic remains an unsigned artist. Hachey mixes a pop sensibility with an emotional intelligence and profundity that is rare and valuable.
This would sound unbelievable on vinyl.
You can download/stream the album here or get directly through the link below: