Despite 2020 being a particularly ugly year for most of us, we have been lucky enough to enjoy many incredible New Age music releases throughout the year – which have helped to restore our spirits during this difficult time.
In 2020, more than 250 albums have been presented here on New Age Music Guide – and 12 monthly charts too. I have received close to 3 000 music requests from you. Below are the 10 most popular releases based on statistics and requests.
In terms of quality, I believe this is the best top 10 list in my 14 years of music blogging. Andreas Vollenweider’s return, Cheryl B. Engelhardt’s groundbreaking release, Ayla Schafer’s star qualities, and Matthew Mayer’s storytelling – and many other releases – made 2020 a lot better.
Without further ado, here is New Age Music Guide’s Top 10 New Age Music Albums of 2020!
1. Cheryl B. Engelhardt – Luminary
Many people don’t like meditation music because it is too pretty and lovely, with its bamboo flutes, harps, and deep synth pads. The psychology behind this is simple; “easy and soft” meditation music doesn’t match the mind it is supposed to soothe. The music of Cheryl B. Engelhardt, on the other hand, greets the troubled, stressed-out mind. It is hypnotic, incredibly well-mixed, and highly creative. Each piece is like an artwork in its own right.
“Luminary” is a magnificent, brave, and unique release. It is not easy listening, but that is perhaps why it is working. It seems fitting that “Luminary” was released in the age of Covid19, just when we needed it the most. Engelhardt may single-handedly have updated the New Age music genre for the 2020s and beyond.
2. Matthew Mayer – 16670
Even if you have never visited Maximilian Kolbe’s prison cell in Block 11, Auschwitz, Matthew Mayer’s new album will take you there. “16670” is a magnificent and bold album that captures the essence of Koble’s mission. There is no anger here, no hatred – only burning defiance against oppression and evil ideologies.
It is worth mentioning that the atmosphere of “16670” is in every way is in tune with the teaching of Maximilian Kolbe. It is not overly sad, and it is not angry either. Just like Mary watched her son die on the cross, prisoner 16670 accepted his fate with grace and love. Matthew Mayer portrays this emotion perfectly. As he puts it: Not all heroes wear capes.
3. Ayla Schafer – Silent Voices
“Silent Voices” offers a transcendental and grounding listening experience. Indeed, if you listen to it back-to-back, you will come out on the other side refreshed and with a deep sense of belonging. It is Ayla Schafer’s best album to date and a confirmation that she is a New Age music superstar in the making.
The music of Ayla Schafer will, for sure, appeal to young people in search of a guiding star and not-so-young in need of a time-out and reality check. “Silent Voices” is an honest, creative, and timely release that both heals and inspires us to listen deeply. When you do, the silent voices are silent no more.
4. Andreas Vollenweider – Quiet Places
To keep our sanity intact in the age of Covid19, escaping to a peaceful and quiet place once in a while is essential. Andreas Vollenweider comes to our rescue with “Quiet Places”, making it easy to unwind and de-stress. It is Vollenweider’s first album since “Air” (2009), and is inspired by the theme of his novel “Reflections of Venus”. “Quiet Places” is a tremendous and delightful return of one of the finest New Age music artists of all time.
On the album, we also get to hear cello player Isabel Gehweiler and Walter Keiser on drums. As indicated on the cover, there is a level of improvisation on “Quiet Places”. But with artists as skilled as this, improvisation means that the music flows more freely and naturally. Vollenweider had planned to do an extensive album launch tour, but Covid19 made that impossible. Instead, he has done a series of very successful online concerts called LIVE@HOME. One word; bravo!
5. Kirsten Agresta Copely – Around the Sun
If you have followed the New Age Music Chart in 2020, you already know Kirsten Agresta Copely’s “Around the Sun” well. Copely and Engelhardt have been battling over the top position since August. Even though Engelhardt got no. 1 on this list, Copely’s “Around the Sun” has won the hearts of our listeners and readers and will be in our playlists for years to come.
“Around the Sun” is a spellbinding album. It pulls the listener into its orbit, glowing and brilliant. The album is brimming with artistry and the recording itself is magnificent.
6. The EverSound Guitar Collection – Strings of Beauty
The history of the guitar is, in one sense, a history of humanity itself. With roots that go all the way to the birth of modern civilization in ancient Mesopotamia, the guitar’s evolution is long and exciting. Whether the music is classical, folk, flamenco, country, rock, or jazz, the unique sound of the guitar allows for a universe of different personal expressions. “Strings of Beauty” is a welcome reminder as to why the guitar is so universally loved.
EverSound’s “Strings of Beauty” is a collection of guitar pieces that both inspire and awe, including the exquisite “Into the Dark Night” by John Mills, John Adorney’s joyful “Never Alone,” Diane Arkenstone’s thoughtful “Stars Above Spain,” and the sublime “This Moment Called Now,” by Manuel Iman.
7. 2002 – Celtic Fairy Dream
“Celtic Fairy Dream” by 2002, the follow-up to the group’s highly successful “Celtic Fairy Lullaby” (2016), couldn‘t have been released at a better time. Taking a break from negative news has never felt better. Indeed, 2002 has always been one of the best New Age music bands, but today it is more apparent than ever that Randy and Pamela Copus’ daughter Sarah lifts the band to incredible new heights. Take my word for it: Even Enya would be amazed by “Celtic Fairy Dream”. It has musical magic dust sprinkled all over.
“Celtic Fairy Dream” offers the band’s many fans much-needed comfort during these difficult times. That said, it is a truly timeless album that will play well also under much more joyful circumstances. The fairy theme aside, “Celtic Fairy Dream” is really a down-to-earth release with many classical inspirations that will give joy to new and old fans alike.
8. John Adorney – A Silver Thread – Toward A Gentle Place Volume 2
“A Silver Thread” is the follow-up to John Adorney’s highly successful 2017 album “Toward A Gentle Place”. As with the previous release, “A Silver Thread” takes the listener on a memorable journey towards a peaceful and harmonious place. Listening to the album feels like taking a break from everyday life. Adorney has yet again delivered a heartfelt and accessible release, which will please both old fans and people who have never listened to a meditation album in their life.
“A Silver Thread” is a rock-solid album and a confirmation that “Toward A Gentle Place” is an essential series in today’s New Age music. It is a release that we all can benefit from, especially now in a time of uncertainty and rapid change.
9. Liquid Mind – Liquid Mind XIII – Mindfulness
“Silence has a music of its own, it is not dead, it is very much alive, it is tremendously alive. In fact, nothing is more alive than silence,” Osho said. In his music, Chuck Wild seems to capture silence and turn it into music, which in turn makes it easy to experience any kind of meditation – now including mindfulness. It is a fantastic addition to Liquid Mind’s one-of-a-kind discography.
I believe many people think that mindfulness is hard, that it requires a lot of preparation and practice. Liquid Mind’s “Mindfulness” shows how wrong that impression is. You only have to press Play, and Liquid Mind will take you there.
10. Musical Spa – Meditation Music 4: Deep Theta
At first, the works of Musical Spa may seem uncomplicated and straightforward. But it doesn’t take long before you realize that each piece is like a chapter, filled with gently told stories of love, kindness, and firm belief that the key to a good life is balance. It is deeply inspiring and possibly life-changing.
Mindfulness is an important topic in the fourth installment of the Meditation Music series, letting the listener feel the magic of being present in the moment without judgment. It leaves you feeling peaceful and complete – with a deep sense of gratitude to the Musical Spa project for showing you the way.
Congratulations to all! 🙂
Or if you want to check out the chart for individual months in 2020, here are the links:
Newagemusic.guide, and (2) Number of requests for songs from an album, to be played on New Age Stars/Live365.com.
Above picture copyright Bigstockphoto.com. Used under license