Country music’s tropes sometimes seem carved in stone: Love for mother, family, trucks, and beer. Love gone wrong, and so on. What used to be the standard of “three chords and the truth” has devolved into a kind of performative display of cisgender heteronormativity, patriotism, and “family values.” That’s why a voice like Adeem the Artist is so refreshing.
Their second album (after 2021’s Cast-Iron Pansexual), White Trash Revelry is a boon for their message: country music is for everyone.
Intending to subvert the paradigm from within, Adeem’s songs acknowledge country tropes like the trinity of hard drinking, redneck living, and deep religiosity. That’s because they grew up a redneck—a seventh-generation North Carolinian—and struggled with organized religion most of their life. The songs on their new album, then, are drawn in many cases from personal experience.
“I’ve been learning our true history and I hate it,” Adeem sings on “Heritage of Arrogance,” speaking of the pairing of Jesus Christ and white supremacy, musing about their difficulties learning to listen to perspectives they don’t agree with. This is one of the most autobiographical songs on the album, and it’s an unflinching look at growing up white in the South, trying to come to terms with the complicated legacy of history.
“Run This Town” is a blistering examination of performative politics and activism from the left that are used to co-opt the language of revolution to serve corporate overlords. It’s heady stuff, but Adeem’s songs are eminently accessible, well-crafted, and put to good use.
“Baptized in Well Spirits” runs through the world of country drinking songs but manages to sound personal and universal at once: “I could follow my heart to heaven / the wayward down to hell.”
“For Judas” is a simple plea for love and equality, wrapped in a love song. (“I never wanted more than this: To kiss you in public, to openly say that I loved it.”)
What Adeem shows in their songwriting on White Trash Revelry is that it’s best to speak from the heart, to draw from your own experiences, to point toward something larger than all of us.
White Trash Revelry is available HERE.