Eau Claire Native Adelyn Rose Travels and Finds New Depths on ‘Any Way’
Eric Christenson, photos by Jesse Johnson |
In early March, on the precipice of a nationwide lockdown, Addie Strei was painting houses in Minneapolis. It’s one of many side gigs for the Eau Claire native, whose 2019 found her busy with music, touring all over the world, traveling, and existing in a transient space, moving from one thing to the next.
“I was in the Midwest for six days last summer,” Strei said over the phone between brushstrokes. She joined the live lineup for the band Her Crooked Heart, fronted by Rachel Ries with Hillary James and Siri Undlin – a woman-powered supergroup of sorts. They had scarcely even played together much when, before they knew it, the foursome was on a plane to the U.K. to do a month of shows all over Europe. After returning home, Strei was off to the Philippines and Japan for some family travel the very next day. After that trip, another tour.
Strei spent much of last year away from “home” – a concept that, for her, keeps getting more and more blurred as life trudges on. She lived in Berlin for a while, New York City, and now Minneapolis. Over the last half a decade, she’s lent her vast tool belt of musical skills to a dizzying number of different bands: Her Crooked Heart, Yohuna, Bathtub Cig, Pat Keen, with even more collaborations in the works.
“There’s a time and place for collaboration, and there’s a time where you’re just like ‘I need to make this myself and that’s the way it is.’ ” –Addie Strei, on the creative process for her new album
But in that time, Adelyn Rose – her own project that she started in Eau Claire almost ten years ago – had been mostly dormant. Her last album, Ordinary Fantasy, dropped back in February of 2014. As she hopped around the world in the years since, there hasn’t been much action from Adro, at least in the public eye. But songs were happening, ideas were bubbling, Strei was making songs – lots of them – on her own in different bedrooms, different cities, different times. In all her travels, her clarinet, flute, and microKORG synth were at her side.
New places were intoxicating, yes, but after a honeymoon phase, Strei said she felt isolated, anxious, homesick, cut off from familiarity, and lacking some kind of solace.
“Journaling and recording was the only thing that felt like home at the time,” she said. “I always felt kind of like an outsider. For some reason, music always felt like it made more sense.”
You can hear it up close and personal on the brand new Adelyn Rose album called Any Way, which released in late March. It’s a collection of the raw energy in the feelings she was experiencing being away from home. Recorded in bedrooms in Berlin and New York, many of the songs have an intentional demo-like quality with spiraling woodwinds, washes of reverb, and unfiltered realness. Strei produced, recorded, and engineered the bulk of the album herself.
Finishing the album back in the Midwest earlier this year, Strei felt more power emanating from her world-worn demos than would come from any studio-polished recordings, so that’s the way they are on Any Way: presented as-is. Previously, Adro was more of a full band endeavor with Strei’s brother Leo and drummer Dave Power. But here, the band rests through all but a couple big moments.
“It’s not that I don’t trust the people that I play with,” Strei says quickly, “But sometimes it’s like part of a story I’m trying to tell, capturing certain pieces of nostalgia or images. There’s a time and place for collaboration, and there’s a time where you’re just like ‘I need to make this myself and that’s the way it is.’ ”
The result is a more intimate and personal record than anything in the Adelyn Rose catalog. It’s the sound of a person trying to carve out their own little sonic space, a place of comfort with the stressors of the world raging outside the bubble. Likewise, throughout the process, Strei has become a gifted producer, putting together eclectic sounds and textures that surround her minimal instrumentation and woozy lyrics. It’s the extension of a tool she’s been practicing her whole life: communicating the unsaid with music when there’s no other way to do it.
“It’s a little sloppy, but it’s human,” she said. “It is a moment, and it’s a lot more than a song to me, that capture. It’s like a collage of time capsules.”
Artists change their approach all the time, bending their processes to reach new heights, bigger and bigger. Any Way feels like bold new step for Adelyn Rose, the result of new experiences, new technique, new perspective, and new ways of proving herself again and again.
“I like it the way it is,” Strei said. “So I stuck with that.”
You can find, buy, and download Any Way by Adelyn Rose on Bandcamp at adelynrose.bandcamp.com.