Adam Harvey is a colourful and engaging live performer. He has had endless comparisons to the greats – his musical delivery has shades of Johnny Cash, and there’s even a touch of Elvis there – but it’s all uniquely Adam Harvey. The story of his journey to the world stage is just as colourful. As a young child he spent hours plucking away on a beaten-up guitar, teaching himself the classics of country music from his father’s record collection. At age 10 he performed his first ever gig at a Tamworth On Parade competition, for which the crowd demanded an encore – although Adam admits the audience was mainly his friends and family. He didn’t actually have another tune to play, so he just played the same again – Tom T. Hall’s Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine – which Adam describes as the song which hooked him on music.
His affinity for the stage continued to grow. Despite the wage of “dim sims which were old enough to vote and a can of coke,” while at school he used to perform rock covers at a blue light disco. His talent was spotted during those years, and having just finished his studies, he was offered a support slot on Tania Kernaghan’s national tour, which led to a tour with Gina Jeffreys soon after. In 1998 he was approached by musician Tanya Self, who had been trying for years to get someone to collaborate on a song she was desperate to record, “I thought I was the only one she’d asked, but it turned out she’d asked pretty much everyone in the business,” he said. Amazingly, the tune won a Golden Guitar for Best Vocal Collaboration, and soon he accepted a record deal.
Adam can also tell probably one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll tales of country music. After his initial success it wasn’t long before his name reached Nashville, and he was invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, which began his great relationships with musicians and songwriters in Canada and the U.S. On one ensuing visit, the combination of many days spent drinking and hardly sleeping or eating triggered a heart problem while backstage. He remembers it clearly, “It felt like a heart attack, they rushed me to hospital and they had to zap my chest. And you know, when you get zapped by those things, every single muscle gets it, right down to your toes, so you can imagine…! It’s like being struck by lightning.” When he came to, the nurses were in hysterics. While people usually involuntarily yell out for a loved one or recite recipes, Adam’s mouth spontaneously declared, “I love beer!”
His journey to success hasn’t been the smoothest ride. After an unsuccessful debut album having signed to a record label in 1998, he believed he had failed. “I just thought, that was my one chance gone, I guess that’s it,” he recalls. Ready to return to his day job driving trucks in the gold mines, he was saved when he met his now longtime collaborator Rod McCormack, who encouraged Adam to return to writing and performing songs. It is testament to his ambition and talent that he has picked himself up after every tumble, and in 2001 he arrived with Workin’ Overtime – a smash which won him Golden Guitars in 2002 for Album Of The Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. Just two years later, he had racked up his sixth Golden Guitar and third for Best Male Vocalist following the release of his fourth record ‘Can’t Settle For Less’.
And now having survived the ups and downs of his burgeoning career comes his aptly titled latest work, ‘I’m Doin’ Alright’. This record is a collection of experiences, lessons, thoughts and memories just as much as it is a collection of expertly crafted and intimately written songs. Adam describes, “This album took a lot longer to put together than any of the others. It’s really broadened the way I think about song writing.” Along with collaborations with prolific country music writers, ‘I’m Doin’ Alright’ takes a “new, modern and fresh” angle on country music, thanks to input from a diverse range of talent including blues legend Keb’ Mo’, Guy Clark, Billy Yates, Phil Buckle (who wrote ‘I’ll Burn For You’ for John Farnham), and Tim Henwood (ex Rogue Traders).
I’m Doin’ Alright showcases Adam’s rich, extraordinary and instantly recognisable voice. ‘Better Man’ is a real standout with its fantastic arrangement and fresh chord progression. The first single ‘Someone Else’s Dream’ is a deep and strong ballad reminiscent of Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’, and a great example of Adam’s laidback style exemplified by his relaxed phrasing. Tracks ‘Way Too Fast’ and the title track ‘I’m Doin’ Alright’ are other tracks which support his reflective and philosophical direction for the record.
Adam Harvey is a special Australian talent. With his captivating personality and laconic humour he has undeniable global potential in his ability to turn ideas into gems in the studio, and then turn them to gold on stage. Having just played his third gig at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and winning the American Country Music Association Global Artist award for 2007, it is clear that people are taking notice outside of Australia as well. Describing the philosophy which drives his career, he says, “If people can come along to a show and feel good for a few hours, then I’m doing my job.” Surely that’s what music is all about. And with the talent, the attitude and the exciting new album ‘I’m Doin’ Alright’, the world is truly at Adam Harvey’s feet.