Singer/songwriter Adam Melchor’s visceral tracks “Life on Earth?” & “The Last Song on Earth” remind us that life is precious, delicate, and brittle; that our world needs healing now more than ever; and that, even in the worst of times, we can find moments of light, love, and beauty.
Stream: ‘Two Songs for Now’ – Adam Melchor
These two songs are about the time we live in and the long look in the mirror that comes with it.
A breathtakingly poignant musical snapshot of life in 2020 and (now) ’21, Adam Melchor’s Two Songs for Now is a tender outpouring of bittersweet folk and raw humanity.
It’s the kind of music we need, rather than music we want: As haunting as they are powerfully humbling, “Life on Earth?” and “The Last Song on Earth” are two visceral songs that remind us that life is precious, delicate, and brittle; that our world needs healing now more than ever; and that, even in the worst of times, we can find moments of light, love, and beauty.
Last night I stepped outside
on my balcony to get some air
And all I got was ash and smoke instead
Looked up to see the stars
the only lights came from the cars
But in the clouds I saw a speck of red
If there’s life on mars
Are they gonna have to learn
To ask if there’s still life on earth?
Released October 21, 2020 via Warner Records / Coquito Records, Two Songs for Now is the kind of single that stops us dead in our tracks, forcing us to pause, breathe, reflect, and listen. Formerly a guitarist for indie pop band Frances Cone, New Jersey-born and Los Angeles-based Adam Melchor has spent the past four years coming into his own as an intrepid and inventive singer/songwriter with a distinctive sound, texture, and flavor.
“Vulnerability is Melchor’s best asset,” Atwood Magazine wrote in our premiere of his debut EP The Archer four long years ago. “… These songs cannot help but be from a dark and deeply personal space; they are his poetry, a brave attempt to put puzzle pieces together and find order in chaos. From mourning loss to accepting defeat and seeking help, The Archer is a warm tapestry of deeply touching, intimately human emotion.”
In addition to songwriting with the likes of Finneas, Amy Allen, Charlie Puth, Alexander23, and The Chainsmokers, Melchor has racked up millions of streams in the absence of a full-length album. 2018’s intimately fragile “Real Estate” remains his most popular track to date with over 19 million streams on Spotify alone. While 2021 looks like it may finally result in his first studio LP, there’s been no big rush on the artist’s part: Melchor spent a healthy chunk of 2020 writing and recording songs for a direct-to-fans “lullaby hotline,” to which he has delivered a new piece of music every Sunday since last February (now totaling over 44 songs and a list of nearly 10,000 subscribers). Melchor recently released “Last Time” as his first single of 2021 and announced the Melchor Lullaby Hotline, Vol. 1 project, a collection of his favorites, set for release via major label Warner Records later this spring.
The future is decidedly bright for Adam Melchor, and it’s songs like “Life on Earth?” and “The Last Song on Earth” – art that demands attention – that capture him at his very best.
“These two songs are about the time we live in and the long look in the mirror that comes with it,” Melchor tells Atwood Magazine. “I felt like they were a perfect microcosm of how I [had] been feeling. These two songs are the quickest songs I have ever had to turn around to get out before the Election, which is what my goal was. I remember having this idea on a Saturday, and my manager said the songs need to be in by the next Friday to come out before Nov. 3. I called up a bunch of friends. I recorded the songs on a Tuesday with my friend Andrew Sarlo (the night of the presidential debate fittingly) and played and sang the songs at the same time. The next day, I sent them to Emily who was in London at the time, and she sent her vocal part for The Last Song On Earth. I got it mixed by Billy Centanaro on Thursday and mastered Friday morning and they were delivered Friday. My friend Alonso Ruiz had already painted the wonderful cover art before the songs even existed, so I was very lucky to have the opportunity to use it in this capacity.”
I wanted the production to be as clear and basic as possible. To me, the most powerful songs are presented in this way and it makes the messaging as clear as possible.
Melchor’s tracks reflect a mix of hope and doom, optimism and realism with an underlining urgency for action before it’s too late. “Life on Earth?” leads the pair with a lilting acoustic guitar pattern and soaring folk-pop melodies that send a shiver down the spine. “The first song, ‘Life On Earth?’ is a song I wrote with my friend Alex Hope,” he explains. “The night before our session, I walked on my balcony to examine the sky. It was mid-September and the gray smoke clouds were flooding the west coast skies all week. I looked up to just get outside and see what was going on. The only thing I could see was the moon and Mars. The red shown thru the clouds made me think, “if there’s life on mars are they gonna have to learn to ask if there’s still life on earth?”. I saw a picture from space that NASA posted, where a ton of countries were actually the color red. The fires could be seen from space. If there is life there, are they looking at us and saying wow something is happening? Even from miles away you can tell there’s something going on here, and it isn’t good.”
And there’s a man that’s on the moon
Who just reupped his lease till june
Cuz he can see the smoke from where he is
And he’s trying to make himsеlf believe
That еverything down there’s still green
And the good in people still exists
We may have to fill him in
For better or for worse
And tell him there’s still life on earth
“The second verse goes into a mythical man on the moon, who re-ups his lease on the moon because he can see the fires going on. At the end of that section, I thought for better or for worse, we’ll have to tell him we’re still here: either causing the fires or trying to put them out. Alex has a poster that says, “I want to believe” with a flying saucer in the distance. I want to believe that there’s good in people, and there’s still good to come of us trying to get our home on Earth healthy again. I don’t think I had ever, up until this point, wrote about a topic like this, but it was all I could think about.”
Whereas “Life on Earth?” finds the artist singing his heart out alone, “The Last Song on Earth” is a gorgeously-harmonized duet with fellow singer/songwriter Emily Warren, whom Atwood has previously praised for her own “honest, vulnerable pop.” An achingly heartfelt acoustic ballad, this track – reminiscent, to a degree, of some early ’00s coffee-shop era Jason Mraz ballads – resonates with a sense of ownership: Of taking action and owning the world’s problems, even if we weren’t the ones who caused them – because someone needs to stand up and fix them.
There was a time
When all the doors closed
Boarded up the storefronts
Sent everyone home
No one was driving
The air was all clean
Just one of the reasons I was grateful to breath
What were we doing
What did we know
Before we all noticed a hole in the boat
Sinking and swimming
Thinking we’re living
Ran out of lipstick to put on the pig
“The Last Song On Earth” is a song I wrote with my friend Emily Warren. We were talking about how the political and social climate really brought forward not only a ton of information, but a lot of change,” Melchor recalls. “People were learning how to listen, how to change themselves, and how to believe in a better community and world. I know the title is a bit daunting, but it’s also a bit misleading on purpose. The twist of it all is to realize that the world is filled with problems that need continuous care and love. The best things in life are the hardest to achieve, but they are absolutely worth working towards. Even if we don’t see the exact change/goal we’re looking for in our lifetime, we can help push towards that goal.
“The concept of this song is if we can learn how to listen, how to be kind, how to be considerate, how to rest and how to properly act and wake ourselves up, this doesn’t have to be The Last Song On Earth.”
Melchor and Warren’s voices soar with stirring intimacy as they reach the chorus’ emotional upheaval:
So don’t rock me back to sleep
‘Cause I’m wide awake and I’m done with counting sheep
I’ve had it that way
And it’s not my job but it might be my turn
To get up and put in the work
So this won’t have to be the last song on Earth
The twist of it all is to realize that the world is filled with problems that need continuous care and love. The best things in life are the hardest to achieve, but they are absolutely worth working towards.
As if he hasn’t already been on our radar for the past four years, Adam Melchor has barreled his way into the new year as one of Atwood Magazine‘s artists to watch in 2021. With a heart of gold and a voice to match, Melchor and his music offer a safe space for all – one full of connection, empathy, and understanding. With his two-track single release, Melchor donated a portion of his share to The Solutions Project which helps fund organizations coordinating response efforts in areas deeply impacted by COVID-19 where climate injustice is already rampant.
Adam Melchor truly is the artist we need now, more than ever. Stay tuned for more from the singer/songwriter; it just might be his turn, after all.
Stream: ‘Two Songs for Now’ – Adam Melchor
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