Scale Up: Adam J. Snyder Overcomes Life’s Obstacles on “Down From the Mountain Out to the Sea” EP
No “mountain” is too high for Adam J. Snyder to scale.
The Ypsilanti singer-songwriter and guitarist overcomes life’s obstacles to follow a new path on Down From the Mountain Out to the Sea.
“I’ve been pushing against myself, and I feel like I’ve been in the weeds my whole life. I’m in a pretty good place now, and I’m heading in the right direction of where I want to be,” said Snyder about his latest folk-pop EP.
“I went to Nicaragua in March, and I got to spend some time in the mountains. Then I got to spend time surfing on the beach and hanging out. Something about [that] just felt like where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, so that’s my goal.”
As part of that goal, Snyder shares that positive outlook on Down From the Mountain Out to the Sea, which features soft, breathy vocals; concise lyrics; bluesy influences; and percussive, rhythmic, and fingerpicked acoustic guitars.
Those elements create a comforting sonic experience and reflect the hope, encouragement, and determination embedded in the EP’s five tracks.
“I’ve just been feeling a little more in touch with that kind of stuff when I’ve been writing,“ said Snyder, who grew up in Dexter and previously fronted the now-disbanded Dirty Deville.
“When I come across an idea or things that feel right … or I’m just doing what I enjoy, which is playing guitar, I feel more connected to that kind of stuff. I feel like things are in alignment.”
Snyder searches for alignment and purpose on the spiritual opener, “Where the Light Comes From,” as cyclical acoustic guitar guides him through fields, mires, hills, and briars.
He sings, “I’ve been foolish, I’ve been wrong / Out in the field, out in the cold / I’ve been pulling at your robe / Breaking bread, make me whole / Take me there, oh yes, oh where we all belong.”
“You’re going through these places—the fields and the briar—and you ultimately end up where the light comes from,” Snyder said.
“I don’t know exactly what it means, but it sounded like the right place to go with it. It’s some kind of journey but without the intention of having that point.”
Accompanied by acoustic guitar he sings, “Shout out, shout out your story / Tell it far and near / Yell out, well I’m bound for glory / Bound for glory when / It falls hard on you dear / There is great love, love for you here / When you’re under this rollin’ thunder, the sound and fury.”
“Life can be really rough, but it can be really good. We all go through hard stuff, and it’s helpful for me to offer words of encouragement,” Snyder said. “When things are hard, people got your back, and people love you.”
Now safely back on land, Snyder darts across the desert on the bluegrass-flavored, EP-closing instrumental. “Road Runner.”
“I felt like I needed a song with some pretty good energy … and that’s one that I’ve been throwing in my shows, and people seem to like it,” Snyder said. “That one gives some gusto that I don’t have in other places.”
Snyder also takes “Road Runner” to new heights in a recent live performance video. Filmed by Toko Shiiki and Donald Harrison and engineered by Fundamental Sound Co.’s Taylor Greenshields, it showcases Snyder’s brisk fingerpicking style on an acoustic guitar.
“I’ve worked with Toko on different projects for Dirty Deville; we did five or six videos with her over the years, and she’s awesome,” he said. “I knew that I needed some videos for press … and I needed it to be of quality, so I hit her up, and she came over and took care of me.”
“This time around, I recorded it faster and more efficiently. I was less precious with the recordings,” said Snyder, who seeks inspiration from Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles.
“I tried to write songs that were more upbeat with the intention of when I play them out live they’ll get people’s attention a little bit more.”
In terms of live shows, Snyder will share his growing catalog of songs on August 19 at Dancing Willow Farms' Harvest Festival. Located in Dexter, the festival will feature art vendors, music, food trucks, children’s games, and camping.
After the festival, Snyder will focus on adding more live dates, writing and recording new material, and releasing another live performance video.
“I need to put some effort into my live show and continue building my setlist, but writing and recording will be an ongoing thing,” he said.
“I think I might be looking at a full-length [album] or putting out more singles every few months. I gotta keep the content rolling for my social media.”
Lori Stratton is a library technician, writer for Pulp, and writer and editor of strattonsetlist.com.