Singer-songwriter Adam Green admits he can be difficult. So when the folks at his record label suggested he make some changes and not work with longtime producer Danny Myers on his new album, Minor Love, you might think he would react negatively. But Green, who co-founded anti-folk icons the Moldy Peaches and has been doing the solo thing for the past six years, says he's more cooperative these days.
"The record was by no means dominated by other people's advice," says Green, who enlisted Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom) to produce. "I understand they wanted to have some say in it, and I was a good sport about it."
The album's strongly confessional tone is a bit of a departure for Green. On the sparse opening track, "Breaking Locks," he sings, "I've been too awful to ever be thoughtful." It doesn't seem like he's just writing in character either.
"At the time I wrote the song, it was a really personal thing," he says. "I was definitely feeling guilty for some of my actions. So at the time, that felt like a confessional song. But I'm trying to not make the whole thing dominated by that. It's funny because as I try to make a confessional record, it's 50 percent fictional. What's funny is that people assume stuff is true. The things people often think are true are the lies. It's partially a breakup album too."
While the album has a low-key vibe, it also highlights Green's vocals. Thanks to his husky baritone, the somber murder ballad "Boss Inside" is quietly powerful, and there are elements of Nick Drake in the wispy "Don't Call Me Uncle." Because he speaks more than he sings (think Lou Reed), Green doesn't exactly fit the folk singer mold.
"I'm as much a folk singer as Keith Richards is a pirate or Bruce Willis is a tough guy," says Green. "It's a vehicle for me. I'm not a folk singer. I'm too cerebral."
Still, Green has been associated with the oddball singers and songwriters in the anti-folk scene ever since he started the Moldy Peaches with singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson in 1999. He doesn't necessarily think the anti-folk term, used to describe a new breed of tangentially folk singer-songwriters, was anything more than media-generated jargon.
"No one ever knew what that word meant," he says. "I think everyone involved in the scene has different talents. I can't compare myself to anyone, even someone like [singer-songwriter] Jeffrey Lewis. I could never write like he does. And even though I think his stuff is really cerebral, if not more intelligent than mine, I think he's earnest in a way that's not the way I was brought up."
But Green admits there's an affinity between the anti-folk musicians.
"It's a group who knows each other because they essentially met at the same bar," he says. "We have become friends by association. There's a huge British anti-folk thing: Noah and the Whale, Mumford and Sons. I've been touring with a lot of those people, and it's interesting because I feel like an elder statesman. I'm sure people will read that and think I'm such a douchebag. But I just think it's funny that I've become a pseudo celebrity."