Short, sweet and wonderful: songwriter Adam Green and Little Joy’s petite front woman decide to write about their emotional experiences. A worthy endeavour, as their first shared album proves only too well
Musical partners in crime Adam Green and Binki Shapiro are currently touring a string of intimate clubs all across Europe and North America, all set to introduce their self-titled album to the discerning masses – and the latter return the love with interest. Nevertheless, these two are no regular couple or lovers, but rather a temporary unit with a shared passion. After all, and at first glance, they could not be any more different, this dark-haired New Yorker and Californian blonde who treat us to heartfelt songs reminiscent of traditional folk pop ballads from the 1960s.
Now, they share a stage as part of a press day: First up, Adam Green who sports an unruly mop of curly hair while wearing well-worn leather pants held up by a wide, rivet-encrusted belt and topped off with a washed-out, navy woolly jumper. Shoulders slumped and feet encased in slightly scuzzy leather boots, he takes a casual approach to life. At the other end of the spectrum, Binki Shapiro holds her delicate frame in a poker-straight stance and prefers the casual chic of your average Californian girl. But when she opens her mouth to sing, it becomes clear that she is definitely one of the cooler chicks. Adam Green, the co-founder of New York band Moldy Peaches who left his mark on the antifolk genre together with Kimya Dawson, remains well-known and loved for his slightly off-beat (and occasionally off-note), yet balmy ballads. Just a man and his guitar, a few years ago he decided to pursue a solo career, while Binki Shapiro loves to stir up the crowds with exciting performances by her band Little Joy.
So, here we have two strong, yet antithetic musicians with one huge similarity: Green was left by his wife, New York photographer and musician Loribeth Capella. And Shapiro ended her long-term relationship with band colleague Fabrizio Moretti (who also plays drums for The Strokes). A shared pain and passion, so to speak.
It was Green who came up with the idea of making an album together. “I knew that I would write great songs together with Binki”, he explains. He sent her an SMS and Shapiro – who was about to get on a plane – said yes to this adventure straight away.
Their self-titled debut should be considered a concept album as it is all about a change of perspective. While he sings from her perspective, she takes over his point of view. Both in the hope that their heartache will begin to lessen when inspected from the outside. In terms of music and lyrics, the result works perfectly. Although the duo only wrote ten songs in all, these little gems work so well that they stretch out to fill an entire album and make the world’s shortest concert (around thirty minutes) more than worth its while. Their ten duets sound charmingly unpolished, rounded out with catchy melodies and very personal lyrics, but a little more direct and less obtuse than Adam Green’s forays into songwriting. Where he sounds dark and pensive, Binki Shapiro’s warm voice tends to exult, imbuing even the most sombre songs with a decidedly sunny note.
The album’s sound is aided and enriched by the ample expertise of producer Noah Georgeson, the skilled head and hands behind the authentic sound of Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Little Joy, among others. He manages to splice and compose the simple guitar arrangements and different voices of Adam Green and Binki Shapiro into duets not a million miles away from Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, although Binki seems both stronger and brasher than Birkin despite her deceptively delicate appearance. Listening to these two, their voices intertwined, one gets the impression that their joint production was a therapy of sorts, comforting them in times of deepest heartache.
Yet their tour did not start auspiciously: Kicking off with final rehearsals disrupted by hurricane Sandy in New York mishaps stretched to an absurd Berlin gig where Adam Green left the stage after the first half in an inexplicable feat of eccentricity – never to be seen again. Binki Shapiro decided to finish the show on her own, “but it was pretty tough”. A day later, at London’s Bush Hall, everything is back to normal with Binki commanding the stage in a floor-length black dress. The two enjoy some playful banter and play their short set to the great applause of the assembled fans. Maybe, they simply spent the time in-between re-listening to their own album – a great medicine for lovesickness AND the odd quarrel among friends.
The album, simply titled Adam Green & Binki Shapiro, will be released on 29 January 2013.
www.adamandbinki.com (incl. free MP3 of the song Here I Am)