Album Of The Week / Adam Norsworthy and friends release blues-rock masterpiece

Adam Norsworthy is known as the frontman, singer, guitarist, primary songwriter of the Mustangs, who have produced eleven albums over 20 years. He is also the guitarist and songwriter in the highly regarded Milk Men. Infinite Hotel, released 4 March 2022, is his fourth solo album, and it is a real collectable gem.

With a sizeable discography to his name, it is evident that Norsworthy has the songwriting talent that many would look at with envious eyes. But what sets Inifinite Hotel apart is the musicianship, production and mixing, which deliver Norsworthy’s songs as a package of pure joy.

MetalTalk editor Steve Ritchie asked Adam if this was his best work so far. “I’ve made a couple of Milkman albums I think are really strong,” Adam says. “I’ve made a couple of solo albums I think are strong. I think once you get to a level where you’re really, really happy with an album, there’s no point in ranking them because they all have a slightly different feel. I mean, I certainly think it’s a better one than a lot of the others I’ve made. Rainbird was a really strong album, but you go through different phases with your songwriting as well.”

While there is not a weak song on the album, the quality of the delivery or presentation is a standout. Opener Bridges To The Moon has a delicate two-note piano moment as the drums open the song, and the way the guitars fit in the mix mapped to the outside of the headphones allows the rest of the instruments and voices to breathe wonderfully. This magic, this glittery dust, elevates the album immensely.

Infinite Hotel was the result of a different approach to mixing and production. “Wayne Proctor and I have had a fabulous working relationship for about six albums now,” Adam says, “and we’d always talked about really opening the sound of my music up and getting some of our mates on who are just phenomenal players. So, you’ve got Bennett Holland, who plays with Laurence Jones, on the album. You’ve got Oli Brown, who plays bass on the album. You’ve got Wayne Proctor on drums, Rich Young, Amy Haggett, and when you’ve got that kind of level of talent sprinkling fairy dust all over your songs, it’s just joyous. So you get all these lovely little moments everywhere.”

That first playback was a fond memory. “When I heard everyone finally on all the tracks,” Adam says, “I was sitting there with my mouth on the floor, just going, you know, this is incredible. It’s really lovely to write a song and have people bring their time and talent to it with such care and consideration. It’s incredibly rewarding and gratifying.”

The single, In Time I Will Forget You, is beautiful. “The best songs come out quickly,” Adam says. “Sometimes you’re writing a song, and you look down five or ten minutes later, and the whole song is there. You think, did I write that? When the floodgates are open, or the antenna is up, the ideas start flowing and coming in.

“There are some songs that you write, where you ask where am I going to take this? Where is this going to go? How should this sound? What should the instrumentation be? With In Time I Will Forget You, I knew immediately how it should sound. And in fact, that’s the case with almost all the songs on Infinite Hotel. So maybe, that tells me that I was a rich vein of form.”

Again, the magic dust sprinkled over the song is lovely. Rich Young’s piano sits nicely in the left ear, which adds to the atmosphere leaving some great space for the other instruments on this beautifully constructed piece.

Lost In The Cinema is a beauty, with a guitar part that you want to be able to play along with and chorus, which drives you to harmonise with. “That’s one I wrote a long time ago,” Adam says, “and I’ve wanted to nail it for a while. I’m really fond of the lyric, you know, about that situation where you’re on a first date and the nervousness you have in the cinema. You’re not really focusing on the film at all because you just think, ‘all I want to do is give her a kiss’. I hope I captured that in the song.

“Wayne and I thought it needed a much lighter touch. More hesitant, kind of a vulnerable touch, because a lot of the album’s very forthright and very strong and strident. But this one was much subtler, even though Wayne’s drums on it are just from another planet.”

Infinite Hotel. Album cover, Adam Norsworthy
Infinite Hotel, truly an album that should be heard.

With its wonderful chorus and plenty of sprinkled magic over it, Rise With You is impressive. The light electric guitar touches and the second verse rainy keys build the atmosphere superbly, leading to a fantastic high energy finish.

“We wanted it to be dreamy,” Adam says. “We wanted it to be a little bit sexy. We wanted it to be a rock song, and it breaks off into the solo in the second half because the emotion and the passion are building up. Again, I think we captured it. There’s some beautiful piano on there from Bennett, and that was a good example of one which we spent a lot of time over to get right. It’s one of the more produced ones, the opposite of Lost In The Cinema.”

To my ears and mind, the presentation of a song and how it fits in the spaces that you can hear can elevate a good song to something quite special. On Infinite Hotel, Adam and his team have nailed it perfectly. “I would hate for anything to feel overproduced,” Adam says. “It’s always got to be about the song. The song has to come first, and you’ve got to let the song breathe because if you choke the song, you’ve got nothing. As a songwriter, that’s the cardinal sin for me.”

With Rise With You, especially the way it finishes in the last couple of minutes, this has got to be a shoo-in for the live set. “Well, I hope so,” Adam says. “But Oli took that solo. I thought it was a waste to have someone as talented as Oli just playing bass on the album. I love to play the guitar, but I thought, you know, we’ve got to give Oli a couple of solos, and oh my God, he just he took it to another level. I mean, he plays his socks off. It’s just it’s an absolutely stunning solo.”

I love Meet Me At Midnight, and I love the relationship between the vocals and the chords sequences, and there is some more beautiful piano in there. The ‘I love you, you love me too lyric’ leads to Adam pushing his vocals with a minute and a half to go in the song.

“It’s one of the moments that when I get hairs on the back of my neck when I listen to it,” Adam says. “That song is one which I think people have taken to the most. They find some of the lyrics very moving, and it’s a very special thing to write a song that moves people. It’s easy to write a terrible song, and it’s fairly easy to write a half-decent song. But it’s very hard to write a song that people find moving and profound.”

Meet Me At Midnight is certainly a grown-up, mature song that is deep and indeed quite profound. “The way it’s come out is incredible,” Adam says. “I was very happy with it. It feels epic, but not in a kind of overblown way, I hope.”

Laurence Jones and Bennett Holland.
Laurence Jones and Bennett Holland. “Bennett is an enormous talent.” Adam says. Photo: Steve Ritchie

The album closes with Bullet Proof Man, a song with more beautiful, subtle Bennett Holland keys. “Bennett is an enormous talent,” Adam says, “and also, an absolutely smashing guy. The lovely thing about the calibre of musicians who play on Infinite Hotel is that you don’t have to tell them what to do. They’re so musically intelligent and empathetic that they get the vibe instantly, and that’s not always the case. Some people might think it’s a given that a musician will know what to play on a song, but believe me, absolutely the opposite is sometimes true.

“So, when you’re playing with people like Bennett and Wayne and Oli and Rich and Amy, they understand music, and they understand feel. That’s the most important thing. You have to have feel. If my music lost feel, I’d have nothing because that’s very important to what I do as a songwriter. Bullet Proof Man, Amy’s beautiful violin is in there as well. I was collaborating with intelligent, passionate craftspeople. Musical craftspeople. It’s incredibly rewarding.”

Bullet Proof Man is about someone who never engaged with anything or anyone throughout his life, who turns up at the Pearly gates having led this life of emotional isolation. “I liked the idea of God saying to this chap, you’ve got some unfinished business,” Adam says. “You need to go back down there, and you need to learn how to be more emotionally responsive, mature and intelligent. It was a simple song to write. I had the guitar motif, and then it was one of those songs that fell out quite quickly when you have the idea in your head and a right chord sequence.”

Adam has obviously not stopped composing in this vein of form, telling us the next album has already been written. There are live shows on the horizon too. “It is great to get back out there again after a couple of years,” Adam says. “You have no idea. It’s like being reborn. It’s fantastic.”

Infinite Hotel is an album that deals with intimacy and the feelings of love, loss, and mortality. Eleven super songs have been delivered wonderfully by a talented set of musicians in such a way that there is often something new to pick out on repeat listens. It is truly an album that should be heard.

One of the joys of this job is discovering new music which just emotionally grabs you and draws you in. Infinite Hotel is one such gem and something that will be with me for a long, long time.

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