Hailing from our own Sacramento area, Adrian Bourgeois is set to release his new album, Pop/Art, early next year, and the result certainly lives up to his aspirations for the album. Bourgeois has said the title “is as much a description as a statement of intent” and says that the goal was to bridge the gap between pop music and music intended as high art. He has done so quite effectively, alternately inspiring the listener to contemplation with thoughtful lyricism and composition, and making you want to simply enjoy the musicality. More than anything though, my experience with this album was that it encouraged me to share it with others.
Though the artists Bourgeois has been compared to have never been on my personal list of favorites, something about the way in which Bourgeois takes cues from artists such as the Beach Boys, Elvis Costello, Ben Folds, and Rufus Wainwright, and adds his own personal touch creates a musical quality that is immediately attractive. His work is accessible and diverse, the album sounding “sort of like a greatest hits collection,” in his own words. The material used for the 24-song album spans a long period of time, some songs being written years prior to the release, just after Bourgeois completed his first album in high school. With so much time and opportunity for influence, it is no wonder that there is a wide range of sounds in this album.
In his mid-twenties now, Bourgeois recently made the move to Los Angeles, where he continued working on Pop/Art, almost entirely independently. Bourgeois mentioned there being a few offers from recording companies to help produce his work, but found that “all the ‘almost’ offers” were only putting off what he could produce himself. With only a few key guests assisting with harmonies and orchestral instruments, Bourgeois finished Pop/Art, knowing it was more important that the album be heard, rather than wait on offers that never quite came through. In order to take on such an endeavor, Bourgeois taught himself how to play many of the instruments heard on his album, sometimes taking days to get down a single part. Bourgeois says the challenge was “not just to get the part right, but to capture the imagined chemistry of a band.”
Bourgeois describes the effect of having only himself to answer to creatively as a positive one, being able to make his music in the most honest way, rather than trying to keep commercial success at the forefront. In listening to the finished work, it is easy to hear the earnest quality of a performance and the harmony of a polished composition, created and captured by one artist with a mastery of his art.
After completing his long-term project, Bourgeois said, “It’s really scary to finally finish what you’ve been working on.” Having enjoyed the work of making music, the task now lies with getting it heard, something that is central to Bourgeois in his career as a musician. The singer spoke fondly about past tours and expressed a desire to possibly go on tour again in the spring or summer with his band, See How They Run, though he hasn’t announced official plans so far. For now, Bourgeois is settling into LA’s music scene, enjoying the atmosphere of being surrounded by other motivated artists.
As a musician and as an individual, Adrian Bourgeois shows a kind of enthusiasm for his work and life that is a delight to encounter. His work in Pop/Art shows that passion for the different sides of the musical world, embracing both the simple and deep paths that music can take, and combining them quite beautifully. In all, my take on this album and this artist is that he has provided music that will be enjoyed by any who come to it willing to find enjoyment.
The official release for Pop/Art is February 4, 2014. You can also pre-order the album now at adrianbourgeois.bandcamp.com and get an immediate download.
Photo compliments of Adrian Bourgeois.