"They play country songs in heaven, but in hell we play ‘em loud”, Adeem The Artist sings in the chorus to their new single, ‘Going To Hell’, as they invite you all to join them on their way to being damned for all eternity.
In their first single since last year’s ‘Asheville Blues’, Adeem The Artist recounts a presumably imaginary encounter with the devil at the very same crossroads where Robert Johnson made his mythical deal. The deal between the devil and Johnson turns out to be apocryphal; “white men would rather give the devil praise than acknowledge a black man’s worth”, jokes the devil pointedly, but everything else about hell is true. “We’re gonna dance around on the fiery ground / Devil gonna fiddle out a bluegrass sound / A ruckus that’d made Charlie Daniels proud”, they sing on this rattling taste of whatever’s coming next from one of country music’s most exciting voices
“This song was supposed to be a joke”, explains Adeem. “I just started singing this chorus while doing the dishes and then thought, well, damn. It’s my favourite on the record, probably, because of its absurd whimsy, feckless irreverence, and the balance of comedy and political thought that share a fun and romantic dance. We chose to put it out first because it summarized the seemingly contradictory energy of activism and humour in a really complimentary and digestible way.”
Adeem The Artist first came to our attention a few years back now when their delightfully scruffy anti-country single ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ popped up on our Bandcamp and quickly became one of those songs we held close to our hearts in our darkest days. A sweet blend of angsty Bright Eyes-esque americana and wide-eyed Appalachian joy, the self-released EPs that followed became our cosy soundtracks to the pre-apocalypse.
A seventh-generation Carolinian, growing up in North Carolina and later in Syracuse, New York, their dark self-deprecating sense of humour owes as much to comedians like Andy Kaufman and Sarah Silverman as it does the artistic influences of musicians like John Prine and Blind Boy Fuller.
"My parents are both from a lot of generational trauma, and I was born right at the heart of it,” they say. “Humor is just how we survived."
Cast-Iron Pansexual, the full-length that eventually followed those early singles in 2021 was a triumph. An unflinching darkly comic examination of faith, sexuality, gender expression and self-acceptance, it was a work of inward reflection, using songwriting as a tool to process cultural trauma and explore identity in queer culture, religion, apostasy and in relationship with the archetypal ruins of the Southeast United States. Adeem’s twang-studded gospel representing a worldview too often excluded from modern country music, one that converts shame into celebration.
Listen to ‘Going to Hell’ and watch the video premiering exclusively at Holler below.
‘Going To Hell’ is released on 21st September and the Cast-Iron Pansexual is available for streaming everywhere. If you haven’t heard those early EPs and singles they’re all on Bandcamp. Go back and check them out. You won’t regret it.
Photo credit: Shawn Poynter