In 2012, songwriter Adam Levy lost his son Daniel to suicide after a long struggle with mental illness. The tragedy altered every inch of his life. It left him creatively incapacitated for a long time. He spent much of the three years that followed sharing his story in public forums as well as trying to make sense of the inexplicable trauma. Gradually, Levy started writing songs again. What came out were songs that expressed the longing and self-examination he’d been experiencing in the wake of his son’s death. The songs don’t wallow in the agony; they dignify Daniel’s suffering and brilliance in the visual arts.
The record got its name from the closing song “Naubinway,” which is a heartbreaking description of the watery “backwards baptism” burial of his son’s ashes that Adam and his family scattered in a sandy lagoon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula exactly six months after Daniel’s death. Naubinway is Levy’s most personal work to date, jaw-droppingly immediate, poignant and speaks from the heart to the universal human experience of death and loss.
Levy’s palette is largely acoustic on this record. He wanted to rely as much as possible on the strength of his voice and guitar playing to tell the story. His fingerpicking recalls his love of Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson, Merle Travis, Big Bill Broonzy, and Nick Drake. But Levy is no museum piece, punctuating the folk music of the past with electronic and experimental textures, as well his signature melodic and chordal twists and turns. Much of the record was recorded in his home with a new and old musical friends supporting him.
The record is now available as a digital download and on CD and vinyl. You can find it at Twin Cities retailers, Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes. Five percent of first-year sales will go to People Incorporated’s “Artability” program, which supports mental health and the arts.