For renowned singer-songwriter Adam Zwig music is a conversation. It’s a thoroughfare for the exchange of emotions between himself and the audience. His 2015 live album, Adam Zwig: Live at the Wiltern Theatre [Conscious Records], illuminates just how tight that connection remains.
“When I play a show, it’s less about people looking at me,” he asserts. “It’s more like a tribal, spiritual gathering, and we’re communicating back and forth. It’s about us, and we create something together. It’s not a one-way thing. Everyone is actually jamming on it.”
While in the midst of a tour supporting his sixth studio album, Stones, Bones, and Skin, Adam chose to capture that “conversation” on tape. Rather than piece together cuts from various evenings to assemble the album, he delivers one entire uncut performance on Live at the Wiltern Theatre. Grammy Award winner David Bianco [U2, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash] preserves the ambience of the room, allowing the audience a voice in the process. Days before the big night, Adam began encouraging a looseness amongst his band, and the record brings his artful amalgam of folk, indie, roots, and rock to life like never before.
“We really started doing things in the moment around that time,” he says. “I used to emphasize mirroring the sound of the records, but playing live is about that fluidity between the musicians on stage and the audience. That’s how the energy transfers.”
The opener and first single, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” coasts between melodic guitar leads, bright organs, rustic percussion, and his dynamic delivery. “That’s the only cover I’ve ever recorded,” he explains. “The original is very sweet and acoustic. We totally rocked it out! Dylan went through a period of really surrealist lyrics where all of these strange images came together. I love that.”
Then, there’s the fan favorite “Once A True Love,” which in between roaring crowd applause, augments his wayfarer lyrics with a distinct beat. “I actually rewrote the verses for the live version,” he goes on. “I wanted something more upbeat and up-tempo to describe this experience I’d gone through. You can really feel the love story unfold.”
The set culminates in a striking rendition of “Raising People,” which relays an important message for Zwig through the progressive keyboards and soaring chorus. He says, “That one asks the question, ‘How do we make change in the world?’ You can’t beat people up to make them do what you want them to do. You have to lift them up instead.”
Zwig has been lifting people up since he first kicked off his career with his full-length debut Pictures of the Gone America. His seven albums have yielded multiple Top Ten AC Radio hits including “Castaways” and “Who Killed Michael Vaughn,” while other tracks received placements on NBC and Fox Sports. Outlets from Billboard and Forbes to ABC, CNBC and the Huffington Post have featured him.
As he continues to deepen the dialogue with his fans with the release of his seventh studio album and a whole lot more touring, Zwig sees the release of Live at the Wiltern Theatre (December 2015) as the commencement of his next phase. “I hope everyone can see there’s something powerful that can happen in a concert,” he leaves off. “You are as big of a part of it as I am.”