Chicago rocker Adam Schubert re-emerges as Ulna with the reflective Oea | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Chicago rocker Adam Schubert re-emerges as Ulna with the reflective Oea



Adam Schubert, who plays guitar and sings in Chicago psych-rock unit Cafe Racer, took up music more than a decade ago. At age 14, he shattered his ulna (one of the bones in his forearm) in a skateboarding accident; since he couldn’t skate, he decided to pick up the guitar. By age 16, he’d gotten comfortable enough with the instrument to write and record his own material. He kept his solo work private up until a few years ago, when he started releasing lo-fi tracks as Ruins. Schubert has since changed that pseudonym to Ulna in tribute to the broken bone that pushed him to play music. Schubert wrote most of the stripped-down, reflective songs on the new Oea (Born Yesterday) while sobering up in a recovery program, and his journey colors every musical detail and lyrical nuance. His capacity to face his worst behaviors with self-possessed kindheartedness (as he does on “I Was a Monster”) enriches these serene songs, which he sustains with a hushed grace. On “Last Song” his lilting, half-whispered vocals float through a gently fingerpicked melody, languid drums, and a scrim of slide guitar, and his voice lends his darkest lyrics a yearning that feels almost like optimism. Schubert’s perseverance allows Oea to deliver a gratifying catharsis.   v

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