Monday, June 29, 2015

Artist's Cookbook: Chipotle Chicken Pasta Salad from Adam Hill

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Traditionally, these "four somethings" are used to describe what a bride should wear on her wedding day for good luck. But my lifetime motto has always been one of bucking tradition. So today we are going to talk about those four somethings as they pertain to Canadian folk artist Adam Hill's new album called Old Paint.

Adam Hill isn't one for living in the past. Maybe that's because modern day amenities help to take care of him. Maybe it's because he creates music using paper, pencils, instruments and computers (which didn't exist in the recent past). Whatever the reason, Adam likes where he is now. But that doesn't mean he won't reach back into the past for inspiration which is precisely what occurs on Old Paint. The concept behind his fourth album is that Adam takes twelve old tracks and reinvents them. Or, for those of you scoring at home, he makes something old into something new. As he likes to say, these are tunes that your grandparents might have sung performed in a way that they wouldn't have.

Take, for instance, the album's opener (and my favorite track) "The Cuckoo." While this track, and much of the album for that matter, creates its music with organic acoustic sounds, Adam adds a sort of present day playfulness as part of his re-imagination. This playfulness is meant to not only keep the folk music path from becoming overgrown and obscured but to help widen it so that more people can begin to appreciate these old time traditional tracks.  The playfulness in "The Cuckoo" is created by a spastic recorder. Its appearance serves two purposes, it is meant to invoke the sounds of a cuckoo bird while also paying homage to the British Isles (from where the song originated). That's your something borrowed my fine feathered friends.

Even though Adam incorporates some playfulness into his delivery, Old Paint doesn't completely turn its back on the feelings of hopelessness and despair that a lot of these tracks were trying to capture in their original form. On "Rye Whiskey" Adam tells the story, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, of a person who is suffering from alcoholism and its effects. The main character sings out "Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey I cry, if I can't have rye whiskey then I surely will die." On another track, "Bentonville Blues," Adam addresses wage slave culture and the "mean old Bentonville blues" that come from working a lifetime for Sam Walton. In both songs the characters recognize what is wrong in their life. They know that their actions, or lack thereof, have contributed to the situation they find themselves in. Yet, instead of going out and trying to change things, they have come to terms with it and are resigned to forge a future that looks a lot like their present. That's surely something blue.

Adam's pairing this album up with his version of pasta salad. This one has a chipotle chicken twist to it. Enjoy the second recipe Adam has ever written out in his life. You can find it here.