Adrian Krygowski doesn’t have wild, unkempt hair or a beard, and I’ve yet to see a photograph anywhere on the internet of him wearing flannel. You see, he doesn’t look anything like your average folk/Americana singer/song writer, but damn if Krygowski doesn’t sound like one.
The deception doesn’t end there. While the Virginia native is indeed southern, his background doesn’t fit the dyed in the wool troubadour cliché. The former low level employee of a multi-national telecom giant has probably never ridden a boxcar or cut another man for drinking the last of his moonshine, but along the seven tracks of his most recent EP Roam, Krygowski displays all the pathos, early morning hunger and six string glory of an American hobo legend.
In fact, the backstory for the recording process of Roam, is a glaring contradiction to the itinerant populist radical image the all too authentic music conjures. While scabbing against union strikers in upstate New York Krygowski cobbled together the working man themes and hardluck longshot motifs that populate this EP. Carrying his guitar to an abandoned baseball diamond after a hard day’s work unionbreaking, the clean cut Krygowski used the abandoned stands as his woodshed, weaving together minor keyed 4×4 rhythms over white boy blues narratives.
The outcome is like the stunning discovery of a dustbowl era reel-to-reel. Roam‘s strength is its lack of marketable angles. This style of music hasn’t been popular in fifty years if it ever was. Furthermore, in the image oriented digital age a lack of theatrics wont do much for exposure, but the ears can still find perfect pitch. Adrian Krygowski doesn’t dress the part. He doesn’t need to, his music is the real deal.
With vocal delivery reminiscent of a youthful, mostly sober Leonard Cohen on tracks like “Wisconsin #2,’ the titular “Roam,” or the closeout giant “Bailout.” Krygowski displays the soft ground-glass promise of deterioration to come, coloring the conviction and desperation of heartfelt bottom-up lyrics.
The song’s subjects are equally desultory, involving longshot gambles, poverty, heartsick longing, death, dysfunctional romance and hard drinking. There isn’t much ouvert joy, but the narratives aren’t complete despair. Some of the characters employed could have stumbled straight out of a Steinbeck novel for their indulgence of simple pleasures and ignorance to abject misery. And while the rye drenched revelations of bad romance and sentimental reveries for what once was tug at the heartstrings, the songs steer well clear of hyperbolic, weepy balladry.
This album won’t sell well. Its lack of ultra modern post-hip sentiment means it won’t circulate well with the craft brew/facial hair crowd. Neither will Roam strike a chord with mainstream tastes. The music isn’t forced, doesn’t have an agenda, and isn’t really cool. It is real though, and its traditional influences lend the over-all impact a sense of timelessness. The EP might have been released at any point over the past half century.
Too modest for a flowery stage name or inflated origin story Adrian Krygowski is a no one. But then again so am I. And so are you. We’re a nation full of no ones bullshitting each other to sate overly indulgent egos as to the value of our own self worth. So why not drink too much? Why not take a load off listening to songs about another’s problems. Your dream girl or prince likely doesn’t exist, so why not engage those around you beautiful for all their faults? Krygowski’s narratives refute the illusion this age is somehow better, easier or more convenient than those passed. While the steel guitar, fiddle or simple structure of the individual tracks may not be moving music forward, they’re still moving.
After the past decade of war and poverty, of violence, greed and injustice the song and dance of the pop format has worn exceedingly thin. To hear a man sing about hardships isn’t so much entertaining as it is an accurate metaphor of modern life. The EP’s namesake may not be a title but a directive. The rock bottom state of our nation, our music industry, and some of our own personal lives means there’s got to be something better ahead. Hope might be a mirage, a trick of the light shinning dimly from just over the next horizon. Maybe a little traveling is all we need to finally find it. Roam on ye.