Decatur native Adrienne McCann left Georgia in August 2007 on the eve of her 20th birthday. The burgeoning singer/songwriter of fairy-tale folk songs, who is better known as Adron, knew that New York was the place for a young, ambitious musician looking to move up in the world. So she packed her bags and went north. A year later she is returning to play a CD-release show for her self-titled debut on the Atlanta/Brooklyn-based indie label New Street Records.
Though the only major-label interest in her work has come via a MySpace message from a Capital Records A&R guy, her escape to New York has brought her one step closer to her dream. "No one comes to New York to be half-assed about music," she says. "I feel like I'm in the right place at the right time."
When she was still living in Atlanta, Adron made a name for herself as a rising local underdog. Her guitar playing possessed a certain charm and skill level that surpassed her teenage years. No matter where she played, she wrapped the entire room around her finger.
During shows at the Star Bar, A Cappella Books and the Earl in the summer of 2007, Adron would appear onstage, often wearing what looked like pajamas. Her fingers moved across the fret board of her guitar with messy precision, though there was not a hint of nervousness in her performances. Waves of tropicalia dripped from her hands as she played and cooed, interspersing her singing with clicks of her tongue, bird chirps and mouth pops.
Her finger work gave the appearance that she'd trained in various styles of Flamenco and Brazilian folk music. But she laughs at the false impression of a self-styled technique that resulted from her tinkering to find her own comfortable way to play the guitar. "I taught myself," she admits. "The first song that I learned to play was 'Pay No Mind' by Beck."
Though she started taking piano lessons at 4, it wasn't until she was 11 that she picked up the guitar. After going through what she describes as a "disgusting obsession" with Beck, and later digesting a chord book of Beatles songs, she developed an instinctive understanding of notes and how they interact with one another.
By combining elements of surreal, personal narratives and her quasi-Brazilian-style strum, Adron's songs were at once baroque and hypnotic. Imagine, if you will, the sounds of Beck pre-
Sea Change, Os Mutantes, the Beatles, and Seu Jorge's soundtrack to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and you're somewhere in the right neighborhood – but not quite.
The soft sound of nylon guitar strings also offers a smooth counterpart to Adron's voice. "I always wanted it to sound very deliberate," she explains. "That probably comes from being raised on the Beatles, and the genius of Paul McCartney's songwriting is that it is so seamless. I always wanted what I write to reach that level of completeness and sound so uncompromisingly certain."
Since she was 14 years old with posters of Beck hanging on her bedroom wall, Adron has kicked around many of the songs that take shape on her New Street debut. The album presents a breezy jumble of pristine songwriter fare and whimsical imagery that shifts back and forth through time. The outward simplicity of songs such as "Airplanes" and "Walking Home" belies a more complex inner structure that, in itself, is an intense approach to songwriting. Other songs, such as "Blanket Fort" and "Never Leave My Room Again," are bound by the innocence of a world-weary high school girl, trying to make sense of her own voice.
In "Never Leave My Room Again," she pines away over misguided obsessions and affections that leave the deepest impact when she sings, "One day I'll escape from you/just tell me what I have to do/to never have to leave my room again."
In a sea of singer/songwriters, Adron stands apart from the earnest and overly sincere masses by relying on her instincts and writing songs that skew the traditions of a little lady with a big guitar. The results are as captivating as they are distinctive. Adron's move to New York sounds like a trial by fire, especially for a young Georgia girl who isn't even of legal drinking age. But she's at a pivotal point in her career, and she speaks fondly of finding her way amid the tarnished city streets while being close to fellow Atlanta expatriates she looks up to as heroes – including folks such as Scott Herron of Prefuse 73 and former Blame Game drummer Alex Lambert.
"I'm close to people who inspire me and the whole place makes you better at everything," she says.
As she navigates her way through the Big Apple, while working in a coffee shop much like she did in Decatur, Adron finds herself living closer in proximity to the fairy-tale world she captures in her music.
And that's a good place to be.