Occasionally (but not nearly enough), a record stops you in your tracks. The last time it happened to me was earlier this month, when I decided to check out the latest project of frequent Fretboard Journal contributor Adam Levy. Levy’s credits are of course far more impressive than showing up on the masthead of our magazine: He’s toured and recorded with Norah Jones and Tracy Chapman and served as a session player on numerous sessions; he’s also quite a singer-songwriter in his own right.
To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have even found this album had I not known Adam – not that he did anything to sell it to me (I can’t even recall him Facebooking about it). I just decided to check out what he’s up to. I’m glad I did. What makes Neighbors so interesting is that Adam is joined by another singer-songwriter, Anthony da Costa. The two swap songwriting and vocal duties for an entire album; an album whose recording session was literally the first time these two had played together. Heck, the whole album was recorded in just two days. It’s a compelling package: Levy’s songs lean towards a bourbon soaked twang while da Costa lays it all out, emo-folk style, more Bright Eyes than Butch Hancock.
I’m guessing at least a few FJ readers have seen da Costa perform, even if you don’t recognize his name. The young Nashville-based musician has performed guitar duties with (among others) Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz. But that still doesn’t prepare you for the depth of his songwriting here.
I asked Adam to give me a brief synopsis on what I was actually hearing on this record—who was playing what, whose songs were whose. He texted back, “Anything with Bigsby is Anthony.” That was way too simple. I needed more info. He walked me through the tracks a little deeper. On the title track, Adam is playing baritone electric guitar while Anthony sings and plays acoustic guitar, on their cover of Los Lobos’ “If You Were Only Here Tonight” Adam takes over on acoustic guitar, while da Costa is on electric baritone guitar. On and on, they switch duties (and songwriting and singing).
Unless these two are coming to a town near you (they just posted a handful of tour dates here), these two videos recently shot by the Music Emporium will have to do if you want to capture this pair’s yin-yang essence.