Today marks the release of The Song Gardeners’ debut album People Passing Through. In a time of uncertainty and crisis, Mary Gospe, Corrie Dunn, and producer David Scheibner seem heaven-sent with their hopeful and inspiring music. The album contains eight songs, including seven previously-released singles plus the title track. The seed The Song Gardeners planted has grown into something profoundly inspiring and meaningful in less than two years. Even before the album was released, the band is known for having revitalized the New Age music pop genre for the 2020s – making today’s album debut a must, combining the best of pop and New Age music with a winning attitude.
The San Francisco Bay Area band, The Song Gardeners, was formed in August 2019 by singer/songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Corrie Dunn and Mary Gospe. The album was produced by David Scheibner and mastered by music industry icon Bernie Grundman. James Butler provided additional keyboard and synth bass, and Chris Day performed bass on three tracks. See the New Age Music Guide release-day interview with Dunn and Gospe here.
Harmony of Contrasts
After reviewing the seven singles released so far, it was fascinating to see the album’s tracklist. The overall focus is on love and harmony, with gender equality, inner peace, and the fight for positive change as notable sub-themes.
It is easy to discredit songs dealing with “peace and love.” It somehow doesn’t feel genuine. “Love Is The Magic Of Change,” though, is the real deal. It contains an incredibly well-made soundscape, a catchy rhythm, pop textures, and a rich synth pad with a nice tremble – and Chris Day’s fantastic bass.
If we were to label Altered State, it would be a ChillGroove/New Age Groove song. Its catchy rhythm makes the listener pay attention, and when Mary Gospe’s brilliant vocal comes on, the band has our undivided attention. Leaving this crazy world for a while and joining them in an altered state seems like a great idea!
Love Flows is a welcoming and highly optimistic pop/crossover song. The slow rhythm, steel-string guitar, and bass lay the foundation before Mary Gospe enters the stage. Her magnificent vocal makes you hang on to every word. The lyrics are about how the journey of self-discovery and love is impossible without peace.
Reveal is, according to the band, “an invitation for women across the globe to break free of outdated patriarchal, religious and cultural norms that keep them silenced and hinder their choices and freedom of expression.” The single contains a chant sung by Gospe in Farsi, Spanish, and English. In a world still dominated by men, songs like “Reveal” are essential. It is a powerful and possibly life-changing message.
The title track is a light and laid-back song with a double meaning; it is about respecting others and living in the moment. We are to treat every day as a gift, filled with opportunities to make this world better; We are people passing through. There is also a dimension here that deals with the passing of time and legacy. Again, I’m amazed by how Gospe and Dunn manage to communicate such complex topics so effortlessly.
Sabbe Satta Sukhi Hontu
Sabbe Satta Sukhi Hontu, a Buddhist chant of happiness, is our guiding star on the next song – where we are greeted by light percussion, electric guitar, and piano. The lyrics are hopeful and inspirational, wishing spiritual awareness and good luck. The recording and mixing are outstanding; notice how the song creates a “room of sound.” It is almost hypnotic, and I find myself wishing for the music to go on and on.
Warrior of Light is an incredibly well-made and radio-friendly piece that goes straight to the listener’s heart. The way it deals with problems and issues makes me think of political songs of the 1960s and 70s. It has that same powerful “we can fix this together” attitude. As an album closer, it is just right.
In conclusion: When listening to People Passing Through by The Song Gardeners, one can’t help focusing on the songs’ meaning and the optimistic, feel-good atmosphere. But beneath all of that are eight rock-solid pop melodies with a charming touch of New Age music. It is a sound that paves the way for New Age pop in the 2020s, which seemed very unlikely before this band entered the stage. They have also shown how it is possible to cultivate a local and a global audience simultaneously.
Even though People Passing Through from a thematic perspective is a perfect match for the here-and-now, the album also has a timeless quality. Songs like Love is the Magic of Change, and Sabbe Satta Sukhi Hontu will spice up any quality New Age music playlist. There is a lot of life wisdom here, too, poetry that deserves to be listened to – and read – again and again:
Living each day in the moment
We’re stepping together in time
Offering a lifetime of knowledge
To those we leave behind
For more information and music samples, visit thesonggardeners.com.