For his follow-up to the acclaimed Homesongs, the nu-folk icon Adem turns his attention away from hearth and home to contemplate the cosmos, a shift that could be characterised as moving from introspection to extroversion; except that in many songs here, space operates as a metaphor for aspects of the human condition.
In effect, it's just as inward-looking as before, but with a wider symbolic canvas that reaches its furthest extension in "Spirals", where Adem anthropomorphises entire galaxies, imagining their spiral arms interlinking as a metaphor for the "galactic tectonic shifts in my chest". (An idiosyncratic writer, he employs several such single-use songwords, the most outlandish being "hypnagogic" in "You and Moon".)
In Adem's hands, the cosmos becomes littered with metaphorical potential: in "Love and Other Planets", the combination of mournful cello and harmonium drone leaves no doubt that the song's really about the distance between us, while both "Warning Call" and "Something's Going to Come" muse on extraterrestrial intervention.
In the former, Adem wonders how we might react to some alien power advising us to change our ways to avoid disaster ("If we received a warning call, do you think we'd learn?"), while in the the latter he ponders the actual desire for intervention as the modern equivalent of religious salvation. With the drums, tambourine and multi-tracked harmonies, it's like a happy-clappy sermon on desire and responsibility, only more fun. "I like the idea of the macrocosmic and microcosmic, and how they mirror each other," explains Adem in the press release, and he wields the notion with power throughout Love and Other Planets.
Perhaps the most successful of the album's many space metaphors is "Launch Yourself", where the plight of an astronaut who has been left behind on another planet serves as a pungent commentary on a relationship that has been outgrown: "You pressed the button to launch yourself/ While I was outside."
Elsewhere, it's hard to view the plight of the visiting alien in "Crashlander" as other than just some poor refugee fleeing from an unbearable situation to a new life somewhere - anywhere - else, prepared to take potential odium in preference to certain misery.
Musically, with Love and Other Planets Adem takes a huge stride beyond the parochial solo-folkie style of Homesongs, incorporating for the first time drums, which give a punchier folk-rock momentum to several tracks.
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