Corbin, Kentucky is the hometown of Sydney Adams. If you aren’t familiar with Sydney, allow me to introduce her to ya. I first became aware of Sydney back in 2019. A friend casually dropped her name and said she’d be releasing an EP soon after. I did a little digging and I immediately found a show to attend. In a tiny little bar in Pineville, my gut confirmed what my ears were screaming about. Sydney Adams is indeed, the real deal. I would even go so far as to say that this young lady has the goods to put Corbin on the map for something other than their famous fried chicken.
I’ve now caught several Sydney shows in different settings, and somehow, she just continues to grow as an artist. And as someone who has seen as many artists as I have over the years, that’s not as common as one may think. Most folks plateau and that’s when careers start winding down. With Sydney, her songwriting is what has made her growth possible. She knows who she is. She knows who she wants to be as an artist. So, as her songwriting has grown, so has her stage presence, her confidence, her vocal delivery, even her ability to get the crowd involved has grown. Those abilities are what are helping her gain notoriety and are paving a path to a career outside our Commonwealth.
You can even see the growth in the skill level of the musicians that want to play in her band, and who wouldn’t want to? She has the total package. Songwriting? ✅ Incredible range? ✅ (I think she has even more range than she realizes) Stage presence? ✅ Confidence? ✅ Humility? ✅ The look of a Star? ✅ Ya know what else? She’s an absolute sweetheart to boot.
I do want to add one real quick detour before we get into the show review. I’m a huge fan of the Wrigley Taproom & Eatery in Corbin. I eat there every chance I get and Thursday was no different. Just take a look at that wonderful burger below. Is that not the most beautiful egg you’ve ever seen? Shew! Stop by and see ’em if you’re in the area. You will not regret it.
Let’s get to the show, shall we? Let’s start with why I chose to travel to Corbin on a Thursday night. I’m a broken record with this, but try and make every hometown show an artist performs. They are always special to everyone involved. The biggest personal reason was that it gave me the opportunity to catch Sydney on a bigger stage with great lighting. She’s earned that stage and she finally got to headline in her hometown. Seemed like a definite no-brainer to me!
Kicking the evening off was the performance of Sydney’s new single, “It Never Was.” I’m actually glad that we get to discuss this one first. I feel that “It Never Was” is the perfect introduction to who Sydney wants to be as an artist. There’s definite radio appeal, but there’s still a lot of things that we can take away. The hook, the melody, the signature sound when she sings “My kind of style is a little more iffy, but I like the way it feels,” the confidence, the throwback to Reba, and the most important aspect, that daggum note she holds in the outro. As my Dad used to say, “$h!t fire and save the matches!” Judging by the crowd response, they understood it immediately as well.
One thing that Sydney and her band have really honed is their ability to pick and choose cover songs. I personally prefer original songs, but the appeal and benefit of singing a song that folks are familiar with isn’t lost on me. I get it, and so does Sydney, because she has really targeted songs that fit her voice and her vibe without compromising who she is.
When she belts out songs like the Marshall Tucker Band’s classic “Can’t You See,” George Strait’s “The Fireman,” or Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” she doesn’t change the perspective of the song, she stays true to the song. In doing so, she lights a fire of familiarity and uses it to her advantage as well as anyone ever has or will. Check it out for yourself below:
Oh yeah, by the way, Sydney covering “The Fireman” is perfection!
Let’s talk for a bit about “Always Home To Me.” You can’t get much more traditional country than this one, and you can’t get a better topic than our Commonwealth. I’ve seen Sydney perform this one at every single performance and I think I know why. Sydney once shared with me that her Mom had helped her write “Always Home To Me,” and when she performs this one, you can see a little extra sparkle in her eyes because of that. That one’s a keeper for sure!!
Earlier I mentioned that I feel that Sydney has even more range than she realizes. That’s exactly what I told her the first time I saw her in Pineville. She took on the massive Lorde hit “Royals.” On Thursday, she melted every face within earshot. You’ll be glad to know that she is including her version on her upcoming EP, that will hopefully be available by the end of Summer. Just as Sydney said, “This song isn’t a country song, but it sure feels like it when she sings it.” Ya know what? She’s absolutely right. This one just feels special and I’m excited to see where it takes her.
The rest of her performance was split about 50/50 between her originals and cover songs. I was tickled to get to hear “Bringing Her Memory Home” and “Half Empty.” Both were released on her first EP, ‘Always Home To Me,’ with “Bringing Her Memory Home” being my personal favorite from that release. She always nails both of those two effortlessly. I hope both stay in her set for a very long time.
Merle’s classic “Mama Tried,” the ever popular “Blue Moon Of Kentucky,” a raucous version of “Redneck Woman,” Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder And Lead,” and a ringing version of the Maren Morris hit “My Church,” were woven around the last four songs I want to talk about.
The first one being, “Sinners Like Me.” This is the song that could take Sydney’s career to the next level. If she can open doors with her Lorde cover, and then drop this song, and hopefully a music video, on folks…her career will become a rocket. Have a listen yourself.
Next up is another new song. One that I have had the pleasure of hearing Sydney perform in an acoustic setting and now with the full band. “A Lot Like You” delivers my favorite Sydney lyrics to date. Check out these lyrics in the chorus:
‘Cause you can’t outrun
The cloth that you’ve been cut from
You can stitch the pieces back together
Needle and thread
Make whatever you want to
Make you feel brand new
I’m a lot like you
I mean, that’s the reality of all of our lives. So, to me, it’s very powerful because it’s so insightful and reflects inward, not outward. And it does so while being relatable to every single soul on this Earth. We all have choices to make and those choices become the fabric of our lives. As a songwriter, that’s a superpower. Sydney has hit a grand slam, walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 9th inning in the World Series with this one. So. D@mn. Good. Kudos to you young lady!
Next was Tanya Tucker’s massive hit “Delta Dawn.” That’s a song that many folks love to get rowdy to, especially the ladies. So when Sydney dedicated her performance of the classic to the ladies in attendance, the crowd responded with a huge response. Which means that those ladies had been raising hell at a Sydney show, long before Thursday. Most likely just down the street at the Corbin location of Austin City Saloon. And ya know what? That was awesome!
A quick observation here, during that performance, I realized just how important guitarist Dustin Knox is as her band leader. I’d seen the head nods signaling for folks to take a solo all night long, but for whatever reason, his high harmonies and leadership sealed the deal for me during “Delta Dawn.” There’s simply no one better suited for that position than Dustin. You did a heckuva job my friend!
Closing things up for the night, Sydney likes to end her set with “You Are My Sunshine.” It’s a message of love and hope and just a wonderful way to end the night, and what a fantastic night it was. I’m telling y’all, don’t miss out on these hometown or even home state shows, they’re always special.