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Outside of his superlative support work in Magazine and Nick Cave‘s Bad Seeds, bassist/composer Barry Adamson is best known for a series of excellent faux film scores (cf. Oedipus Schmedipus, Soul Murder, Moss Side Story). I Will Set You Free, however, doesn’t follow his “soundtrack in search of a film” approach and instead is simply a collection of songs. But saying “simply” is misleading, as it implies that the record was thrown together with carelessly crafted tunes. But nothing could be further than the truth – just because Adamson has decided to make a pop record doesn’t mean that he hasn’t brought all his considerable artistry to bear on this set of songs.
Adamson gives as much prominence to hooks and melodies as to groove and ambience, putting his cool croon front and center in the arrangements of the soul-poppin’ “Get Your Mind Right’ and “If You Love Her,” the rocking ‘Destination’ and the ridiculously catchy mini-anthem “Black Holes in My Brain.” He hasn’t left his postpunk past behind, either – check the jagged “The Trigger City Blues” for a spiky kick. Adamson ends the record with “Stand In,” a lush pop anthem that could be a non-cringeworthy theme song for a major movie. Which, naturally, brings Adamson back full circle – his work is still cinematic, and I Will Set You Free is as compelling and creative as any record he’s made.
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