New Album 'Night Owl' By Adrian John Szozda
“Hard times don’t last/But hard people do,” Adrian John Szozda sings truthfully during “Hard People,” one of the more upbeat tracks on his Night Owl album. It’s an album filled with old timey music, which
includes country, folk and blues sounds all mixed together, mostly acoustically.
Szozda is pictured on the album’s cover drinking a bottle of something. One song, “Rum Rum,” a kind of love song to booze, makes one suspect that – whatever it is he’s downing in the photo – it’s of an alcoholic nature. Szoda sings again about drinking during “Moonlite.” His voice is a rather rough, weathered-sounding vocal instrument. The listener gets the distinct impression he’s lived much of the hard life he sings about on these ten songs.
He might have gone through some troubled times, but he does sing a little about hope, too. The acoustic folk of “Everybody Smile” is a sincere sounding encouragement for everyone to simply turn that frown upside down. When this comes from Szozda’s scratching singing voice, it’s just that much more believable. Unlike one of those shiny happy TV personalities that appear as though they get paid to smile and are probably smiling because they’re getting paid big money, Szozda doesn’t have any ulterior motive to ask for these happy faces.
While most of the album tracks follow folk and country musical arrangements, the spiritual “Father Forgive Me,” instead, rolls to a reggae beat. It features some nice acoustic bass and a chunky acoustic
guitar rhythm. Lyrically, Szozda sounds like one of the guards standing by Jesus while he was on the cross when he sings, “Father forgive me, for I know not what I do.” This is not exactly the sinner’s prayer, but Szozda sounds truly sincere and repentant while singing it. Speaking of unusual time signatures, “Learning To Waltz” spins to a – you guessed it – waltz time pace. Szozda sings about dancing, while accompanied by a dance-inducing fiddle part.
With “I Remember,” Szozda applies his sensitive, romantic songwriter side. It’s a quiet, gentle tune, which incorporates plenty of bluesy guitar. It inserts blues elements, even though it’s not really a blues
song. Szozda is not singing the blues. Rather, he’s singing about his love while spicing this affection up with nice guitar blues licks
The album concludes with another romantic number. This one is titled “Darlin Come Home To Me.” Szozda’s voice is so rough-edged on this one, he sometimes sounds like Shane MacGowan of The Pogues. In fact, it kind of hurts to hear him sing it. It’s one of the album’s folk-iest selections, as it also includes nice harmonica, dobro and persistent acoustic guitar. It’s the sound of one heart longing for a reunion. There are few situations sadder than a man hoping and praying for the one he loves to come back. Szozda sings it in a most heartfelt manner, which suggests he’s also singing it from experience.
Although Szozda begins his album with a number titled “Mischievous Song,” there isn’t a whole lot of mischievousness going on during this long player. Instead, Adrian John Szozda sings most of it straight from the heart, and listeners can easily empathize with his emotional journey throughout.