On the final track of his latest project, the DIY guru smashes through the glass ceiling

Meet Adam Paddock, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Columbus, OH, now living and working in Nashville. Over the last few years, Paddock and his band have taken ownership of the small yet community-driven scene in Columbus, while making waves in the overall independent scene via a rigorous grassroots/DIY campaign that has, slowly but surely, begun to pay off. Motivated by his motto, “People are the point,” he leads by example.

His new half-a-project, SWEET OHIO LIGHT, is out now. The other half is set for release later this year.

Paddock, a master of instrumental and vocal arrangement with a vocal tone capable of maneuvering through pop, rock, jazz, and more, unleashes his prowess throughout this project on songs like “COUNT ON IT” AND “SPACE TO GROW,” but he shines brightest on the projects title track, “SWEET OHIO LIGHT.”

On the first few lines of “SWEET OHIO LIGHT,” Paddock tips his hat to his beloved hometown: “You can probably tell where I’m from/ Mid-American joy and then some/ Tell the kid who he’ll be, and he won’t believe.” He sings “mid-American joy and then some” with a bit of a twang, his tone oozing with confidence and pride. The next lines, with all his love and admiration behind them, push that pride aside in the name of his desire… his desperation, even, to make it out. To go and BE someone: “There’s a push and a pull to become more than a notable high school alum/ You could never have asked too much of me.”

His performance here is exhilarated, but wayward. On a scale of 1-10, he starts on an eight and is, generally, static throughout. The line “Ooh, I could walk these streets,” emphasis on “could walk,” is consistently just under the pitch. His four-note trills on the words “I know” in the line “I know I’m alright” aren’t imperative. However, even with those minor discrepancies, the tune is electric. It embodies the rush of the final minutes of “Fix You” by Coldplay dominated by an exceptionally tight instrumental arrangement, highlighted by an invigorating horns section. His band stays within their lines, but adequately matches the intensity and precision of the lyric and vocal performance.

Impressively, even with a wall of sound to contend with from his band, Paddock’s presence alone via his lead vocal is enough to keep him above water. His vocal additions are tasteful, not excessive. He is, simply, a powerhouse, forward belting and growling his way through each chorus: “There’s a town that you might NEVER see/ But it built me up from underneath/ It’s always been inside/ That SWEET OHIO LIGHT!”

“SWEET OHIO LIGHT” is, to this point, Paddock’s manifesto. It is the abbreviated story of a man who, if challenged, would emulate the training regimens of great Ohio athletes such as Cy Young, Ken Griffey Jr., and King James himself. He might even go another round. All in the name of getting stronger, both physically and mentally. Onlookers may question his motives, or dismiss them as performative, but he isn’t concerned with them. On “SWEET OHIO LIGHT,” Paddock has them in his rearview mirror as he hurtles towards whatever is next, with only victory in mind.

Catch Paddock on his US tour this spring.