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John Adorney – The Touch•Stone – Toward a Gentle Place Vol. 3 Review

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Successful series often follow the same pattern, again and again. It is safe, and it keeps the fans happy – but such series doesn’t evolve or introduce new elements. Here I believe John Adorney’s “Toward a Gentle Place” series – where “The Touch•Stone” is the latest installment – is radically different. The series is influenced by the so-called iso-principle and Adorney’s unique sound, but each piece is a fresh take on the idea that is a journey “toward a gentle place”. Since 2017, we have taken 38 such journeys, and each destination feels distinctive and special. I’m happy to report that “The Touch•Stone” is a rock-solid addition to the series, a winner from start to finish.

John Adorney is one of the most popular and beloved New Age music artists, and The Touch•Stone – Toward a Gentle Place Vol. 3 is his 14th solo album, released on the EverSound music label. Regarding the iso-principle, Adorney says: “Iʼve based the sequencing of the music on something called the iso-principle, which is a concept applied in the practice of music therapy where the music played by the therapist matches the energy level or mood of the client, and then is gradually altered to help guide the person toward relaxation and, ideally, a more peaceful state of being.”

There is a Listening Party for TheTouch•Stone on Saturday, June 19, 11am-1pm LA time (PST). See johnadorney.com for information. 

Through the Waterfall
The Vol. 3 album opener is called Through the Waterfall. If there is one thing every John Adorney fan knows, is that playfulness is crucial. Through the Waterfall is an easygoing and adventurous piece that underlines the importance of not being afraid of getting wet or finding out what is on the other side. I’m very impressed with the opening; notice the build-up and how effortlessly Adorney gets the music rolling. In less than 10 seconds, he has established a musical “hook” that everything from there onwards relies upon. It is not just great; it is brilliant! Another satisfying twist happens around 2 minutes and 17 seconds; the piece could have ended there, but Adorney invites us into new territory and refines the notion of “the other side of the waterfall”. Bravo!

Sample and find the album on your favorite streaming service:

How to go on after an intro like that? By visiting another gentle place, of course! Under Sail is a laid-back piece with several guitars, a flute, and a Rhodes-ish piano. It is as warm and positive as a day in a tropical paradise. Adorney shows once again that he is on par with Medwyn Goodall and David Arkenstone. It is all that it has to be and not a note more.

After the Rain
Another musical journey awaits; the inquisitive After the Rain makes us marvel about nature’s many wonders, especially the rain. It has a touch of Enya and a nice synth harpsichord. The ballad The Light That Lit the Dreams takes the mind on an enjoyable, beautifully illuminated ride into the realm of fantasies before the title track comes on. Adorney’s masterful mix of acoustic instruments always takes my breath away, and The Touch•Stone is no exception. He sets the bar incredibly high, both for himself and other artists. But what about the bullet, the •, you might ask. I believe it is a design element only – but it kinda looks like a stone, doesn’t it?

With Kite and String the album moves in a new direction. Its light and uncomplicated atmosphere takes the listener to a place where everything is possible and there is not a cloud in the sky – before the hopeful The Promise of Morning dissolves the last trace of doubt; this “gentle place” is all about Carpe Diem and living this magical day to the fullest! The section around 2min57sec and onwards is some of the most beautiful music I have heard all year.

Song of the Flowers
Talking about pretty things, Song of the Flowers and Lovely One invites us to destinations of grace and elegance. The Moth and the Lamp has a nice Bossa nova beat and a matching melody, making us see the dancing moth before our inner eye.

The ending of the album is in tune with the meditative nature of the series. Cello and flute always sound fantastic together, as heard On a Breeze So Gently. Dovesong gives our dreams wings before analog synth strings take us to yet another unique gentle place.

In conclusion: People often ask me to recommend music for relaxation. Since New Age music is a niche genre, I find that such recommendations often need an explanation. I tell them about Suzanne Ciani’s love for early synths (recommending “The Velocity of Love”, 1986), or the young Mike Oldfield’s mental state (“Tubular Bells” 1973). But when recommending John Adorney’s “Toward a Gentle Place” series, no such explanations seem necessary. I don’t even have to tell about the iso principle. The music is extremely easy-going and communicative. Each piece is a well-crafted musical getaway ticket. I know of no other series that is this versatile and many-sided. What defines The Touch•Stone especially are the many beautiful tableaus, from The Light That Lit the Dreams and Song of the Flowers to On a Breeze So Gently. The neo-classical, multi-instrumental touch makes it much less rose-red and sticky, 100 % genuine and heartfelt. It is a fine line for sure, but Adorney makes it every time.

Add The Touch•Stone to your playlist and notice how each piece on the album becomes a daydreaming destination you want to revisit, again and again. 

For more information and music samples, visit johnadorney.com