In these troubled times, we all need a sanctuary – a place, either real or imaginative, where we can go for healing, contemplation, and renewal. Paul Adams and Elizabeth Geyer’s new album Sanctuary, which is being released today, offers nine sublime pieces for meditation and dreaming. The album’s key features are the different viewpoints. The forest and the water’s edge, to name two of the places, are brought to life with love and skill. Its grounding qualities are easy to sense, even for people who have never listened to a meditation album in their lives – and the music itself will make the listener eager to return. With Sanctuary Adams and Geyer once again prove that they are among this genre’s finest artists.
Paul Adams debuted in 1990 with Various Waves and has since released 13 critically acclaimed albums. He has over 120 million streams on Pandora. In April, he released the “Americana-ish” album This Curious Wonder. Elizabeth Geyer is an Australian singer, Trumpeter, and pianist. Her most recent album is The Bridge (2016). Together, Adams and Geyer have released the two albums Imaginings (2015) and Deeper Imaginings (2019).
“It is impossible not to be amazed by Deeper Imaginings by Paul Adams, Elizabeth Geyer & friends,” I wrote in my review. “It shows that Adams and Geyer are not afraid to explore new sounds. It is what true artists do. They go deep.” Last year, they released the single Magda. Magda Brown was a Holocaust survivor who traveled the world on a mission to share her story and preach kindness, tolerance, and respect.
The album starts with the title track. In less than two minutes, Adams and Geyer establish the soundscape that is Sanctuary. Usually, I use that description lightly – but here, the soundscape is everything. The secret is in the gentle and tasteful mix of sounds of nature, acoustic instruments, and an almost electric undercurrent of synth pads. It is nothing new or revolutionary, but it is honest, heartfelt, and real. Adams’ light touch of Americana is also a key ingredient, making the atmosphere less formal somehow. Sanctuary sets the atmosphere for everything that follows. Bravo!
We now leave the open plains and enter the forest. I love how A Forest’s Embrace captures both the mystique and the peacefulness of this place as the mighty trees give the listeners a hug. It is a safe place in every sense of the word. The hushed flute, guitar, vocalization, and textures are brilliant. This is a good place to mention the high-quality ambient melodies that give these pieces life and character. They are there guiding us along, both if you are actively listening or just zoning out into a relaxed state.
Through The Tree Tops
Though thematically the same, Through The Tree Tops has a quite different take on the forest vibe. It must be because we are lifted through the tree tops and get a whole new perspective on the scenery. When the ethnic flute starts playing, gently accompanied by the piano, it is as if we get to hear the calming and grounding voice of the forest. It is beautiful beyond words.
As the next track starts playing, we still find ourselves in the forest. The only difference is that night is falling. An Evening’s Caress drives away the fear of darkness. It is a lovely place to meditate and find inner peace. Nothing Is Really Lost is about healing waters. It is very close, as if we are right by a small river – and its sound is the lead instrument. Both the flute and the piano merely fill in here and there. It is truly fascinating.
One of the best pieces on the album is Forest Light. The harp imitates the gentle movement of the tree branches, while the flute and vocalization are the wind. Inside the forest, a low and comforting light gives the place a magical atmosphere. It is a place to thrive and grow, completely shielded from the world. The slow melody is almost hypnotic. Graceful Waters has a cleansing sound, as tiny waves splash in this masterfully drawn audio tableau. It is exactly six minutes long, but time seems to fly while listening. An Endless Summer’s Evening has the same wonderful meditative effect.
By The Water’s Edge concludes the album. It is a nice round-off, as the pads are a bit sharper – a Rhodes piano perhaps. The melody has a touch of melancholy, which is fitting since this is a farewell to this healing and magical place. Luckily, this piece of heaven on earth can be brought to life again anytime you want. Just hit the play button.
In conclusion: Listening to Paul Adams and Elizabeth Geyer’s Sanctuary for the first time is a multi-dimensional experience! The first you will notice is the easygoing atmosphere, light melodies, and tasteful arrangements. Then you will discover that there is more to be found here, much more. Before your inner eye the sanctuary takes shape and the different locations – especially the forest, the fields, and the water’s edge, plus the shift from day to night, and then a new day – become a breathing and living place that you can revisit again and again, wherever you are. That to me is something quite extraordinary! Like Paul Horn’s Inside the Taj Mahal (1968) or Dean and Dudley Monet’s Garden (2021), it becomes a place to explore, discover and grow. It is much more than an album, really.
There is another quality I would like to mention too. I know many find meditation albums too spacey and “a million miles out there” while listening to Sanctuary, on the other hand, is as easy as opening the front door and walking out into a summer’s day. Its unpretentious sound gives it high appeal, far outside the New Age music realm. Sanctuary makes it easy to escape from the troubles of everyday life and simply be. Anyone who is into mindfulness should check it out.
Listening to the album I was reminded of a Rumi quote: “Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.”
Make sure to visit pauladams.org for more information and music samples.