Ryan Adams once sang, “when you’re young, you get sad.” He must have been speaking about songwriters such as Wilder Adkins.
“I used to make up song parodies on the playground back in elementary school. I thought I was going to be the next Weird Al,” Adkins said. “Then something happened in my teenage years and I got sad. Now I write sad tunes, and songs about flowers.”
Adkins is a Birmingham-based singer/songwriter with a flair for fingerstyle folk. He came to study at Birmingham-Southern College and started playing shows around town at venues such as Urban Standard, The Red Cat, Moonlight on the Mountain, and Bottletree Cafe.
He draws from a well of rich influences.
“C.S. Lewis used to refer to George MacDonald as his master. I suppose my masters would be Richard Thompson, Bruce Cockburn, and Dougie MacLean. Of the younger set, I like Elliott Smith and Ryan Adams. I'm also into Indian classical music,” he said.
Lyrically, Adkins focuses on the fleeting nature of life (“Brevity”), nostalgia and simple memories (“Bright and Beautiful”), faith (“Mecca”), and the idea of home (“Georgia Breeze”). He says that songwriting is about finding a balance between “overt” and “cryptic,” an idea that is explored in the song “Hope and Sorrow.”
“I think in life you get a choice; either to recognize beauty or not. I try to appreciate simple beauties in life,” he said.
He has self-produced and recorded two albums of original compositions, Nightblooms and Nativity. He also has a live album, Live at Eddie’s Attic.
Adkins is currently working on his third release, Oak and Apple. “I started working on it in January, as a collection of hymns played fingerstyle on a classical guitar,” he said. “The project has kind of transformed, in a good way, to be a more collaborative effort, and has a mix of original songs alongside some of the old hymns.”
These collaborations have also affected the way he views the performance of his songs.
“I've never had a band because I don't like telling people what to do, but I have had the opportunity to try a few songs out 'full band' lately, and I think I may be ready to start doing some gigs like that,” he said. “The vibe is a lot different, and it's harder to be improvisational, but it's nice to have bass and drums helping to fill out the sound.”