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Peter Adams: 'The Observatory'

Cincinnati-based chamber pop singer Peter Adams
Cincinnati-based chamber pop singer Peter Adams

I Woke With Planets In My Face, the new album from Cincinnati-based chamber pop singer Peter Adams, is a gracefully executed tightrope walk between restrained intimacy and epic orchestrations. The songs push and pull against one another: they're playful but foreboding, majestic but quirky, and always infectious.

The album opens with a beautifully cinematic instrumental piece that evokes fairy tale imagery with a childlike innocence. When Adams finally sings on the second track, "The Observatory," his voice sounds like a more weathered version of Jeff Buckley, with richly layered instrumentation. Dark strings lurk under brightly strummed mandolins, melodica, electronic tones, and shaken percussion.

The music of Peter Adams has been compared to Neutral Milk Hotel and the Flaming Lips. But there's far less guitar noise in his sound, and a stronger emphasis on traditional orchestral elements and digital textures. It's a memorable and tastefully produced mix that begs for multiple listens.

Peter Adams recorded, performed, produced and mixed I Woke With Planets In My Face by himself. But for live performances he has help from Eli Maiman, Martin Diller, Andrea Lee, and David Lloyd.

Download this song in the Second Stage podcast.

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Robin Hilton is a producer and co-host of the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.