interview with Matt, Adam wasn't happy with his performance last Tuesday, which may have been why he had quite a stern expression on his face after he finished. He didn't look adrenaline-filled happy like he did after some of the other performances and seemed to be scanning the crowd, nervous about how the performance was received. I'm quite sceptical but there are unconfirmed rumours that the band screwed up, losing tempo during the live show but Adam managed to continue regardless. I had noticed that the vocals weren't as flawless as I've heard from him before, and I'd place it close to Tracks of My Tears in quality, but the performance still blew me away. I thought it was by far the best of the night and did not deserve to be landed in the bottom two (or three). That was before I heard the studio recording though, and afterwards, I could understand why Adam may not have been satisfied with the performance. Most of the studio recordings haven't done justice to Adam's vocals and I prefer the live versions much more because they sound rawer and you hear a lot more vocal variation. The studio versions have usually been cleaned up too much and Adam's voice is made to sound a bit sterile. Not to mention that I've disliked many of the instrumentals, especially on If I Can't Have You. But not this time. Feeling Good is simply divine. It takes me on an evocative and exhilarating journey which I'll describe:
It's been a dark period of feeling lost and detached with my stagnant life. The first peep of daybreak from a gap in the curtains stirs and caresses me out of my sleep. The light is cool and soft, and I wake up to the realisation that it's the weekend and for once I've not got a vice tightening around my head and I'm not wanting to throw my guts up from another vague night of pointless excesses and over-indulgence. Looking out the window there's mist floating over the landscape glowing in the mysterious half-light. I'm lured outside, wrapping a velvet cloak around my shoulders and I venture barefoot out into the dewy grass of the garden. It feels cool and refreshing. The silent world inhales deeply, carrying the scent of bygone days and a hazy yearning; long-forgotten memories buried in somewhere in the wind, perpetually enveloping and stroking long-forgotten dreams. I drift to the past in times where pain had yet to be conceived and the excitement of innocent hope expands in my heart, stirring and moulding into an intense, vivid vignette, filling all areas of my existence, my realm. The first bright warm shimmering ray of sunlight piercing through the mist eases me back into the present, and with an invigorating exhale, the breath carries away the final traces of soothing memories and those dreams return to their eternal slumber. I'm startled by my sudden awareness of the subtle exquisiteness that surrounds me. I open myself up, slowly contemplate, listen and absorb all that's around me. I'm feeling and connecting back to the present kaleidoscopic world with fresh, pristine, heightened senses. Inhaling deeply, I'm hit with the crispness of the air, the limitlessness of sky and the richness of the landscape brimming with life. I become immersed and feel a rush as the intensity and fragility and full dazzling beauty hits me all at once and I'm overwhelmed by the energy of it all soaring through me, swelling my heart. I become acutely aware that such preciousness lingers under the surface of the constructed illusion of life. I banish the illusion to reveal lush verdant shoots of rejuvenated optimism. I preserve the moment, my heart becomes light, I smile and venture further into my magnificent wonderland.
That's exactly how the recording makes me feel. As much as I loved Nina Simone's version, hers didn't take me on the same thrilling rollercoaster ride of contrasts. Adam's voice is given plenty of breathing space to unfold, develop, narrate then flourish. I love his riffs and what he's done with the melody. The band thankfully manages to be suitably restrained and seamlessly weaves into rock, winding down to the delightful sounds of the bass and piano of jazz. I'm amazed at the incredible control Adam has over his voice and how different and varied he can make it sound. I think it's a masterpiece showcasing so many different shades and nuances of his vocal repertoire all in one musical panorama: rough, smooth, rich, gentle, velvety, delicate, high, low, powerful belts, and for once they didn't clean it up too much so you can fully appreciate the beauty and resplendency of his awe-inspiring voice, from the spine-tingling enchanting falsetto of Sleep in peace when the day is done, to the gritty power of Freedom is mine. The way that glory note soars then descends sounds other-wordly, sending shiver upon shiver down my spine. If Adam was aiming to demonstrate the range and subtleties of his voice, he did well with the performance but he truly excelled when it came to the studio recording. It's sultry, stirring, anthemic, evocative and powerful, and my favourite studio track so far. In our man's own words, Wooh! Get it!