The time has come to reveal the Top 10 New Age Music Albums of 2021! Yet another very different and challenging year is over – but at least it gave us a lot of great music. The below list is proof that 2021 wasn’t all bad.
During the year about 250 albums have been presented here on New Age Music Guide – and 12 monthly charts too. I have received over 2 000 music requests from you. Below are the 10 most popular releases based on music requests and statistics. As in 2020, I will also publish my own personal favorite albums later in January under the title New Age Music Gems of 2021 (Here are the 2020 New Age Music Gems for your reference.)
Without further ado, here is New Age Music Guide’s Top 10 New Age Music Albums of 2021!
1. The Song Gardeners – People Passing Through
Not only did The Song Gardeners revive the forgotten subgenre of New Age Pop – they gave us hope and comfort through a very difficult year. This San Francisco Bay Area band was formed in August 2019 by singer/songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Corrie Dunn and Mary Gospe. People Passing Through was produced by David Scheibner and mastered by music industry icon Bernie Grundman.
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. When listening, 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. Bravo!
2. 2002 – Hummingbird
It is said that the hummingbirds teach us to laugh and enjoy creation, to appreciate the magic of being alive and the truth of beauty. Listening to 2002’s album Hummingbird, I’m happy to report that the same can be said about this inspired release! One would think that no piece of art could ever be as beautiful as the hummingbird. But then the first family of New Age music – Pamela and Randy Copus and their daughter Sarah – release an album that captures its brilliance on so many levels that it leaves the listener speechless.
2002’s Hummingbird is one of those rare releases where everything is just right. Not unlike the bird, its songs come from deep within. And the best part; it doesn’t require you to listen carefully. You tune in without noticing it. Unpretentious, light, and gentle, these ten exquisite pieces seem to communicate a hope that we humans will find our way back to Mother Nature. I believe the hummingbird is a symbol of that.
3. Wayne Bethanis – Measures of Light
Wayne Bethanis’ album Measures of Light is a monumental and captivating release that, as indicated by the title, focuses on the luminosity of music and how we perceive it. Bethanis has delivered an exceptionally well-made album that keeps on giving; It is as if it has a light source of its own.
When listening to Measures of Light, I realized how much darkness there is in art, from angry music, violent movies, and TV series to blood-dripping crime novels. We live in a culture that worships the dark. This is one of the reasons why “Measures of Light” feels like such a breath of fresh air, making us see that we instead should adore the lifegiving light and chase away the darkness. Wayne Bethanis’ album is a masterpiece in every sense of the word; The arrangement is spotless, and he plays the piano like a virtuoso!
4. John Adorney – The Bells of Distant Stars
John Adorney’s The Bells of Distant Stars takes holiday music into exciting, uncharted territory. Featuring the luscious vocals of his long-time collaborator Daya, the album seamlessly blends together traditional songs and melodies from various cultures and holidays.
John displays his skills not only as a composer and arranger but also as a multi-instrumentalist, playing cello, keyboard, guitar, recorder, mandolin, viola, and banjo. The Bells of Distant Stars carries a universal message of celebration, hope and peace, and is an album that can be enjoyed year-round.
5. Keith Richie – Epica
Music of epic proportions never fails to make an impression. A larger-than-life soundscape activates many feelings, from joy to fear, from happiness to sadness. As implied by the title and cover artwork, Keith Richie’s Epica is an album of mighty and monumental music. But there is a sensibility here, too, a narrative about doubt and insecurity – and overcoming great obstacles. Like a well-written fantasy or sci-fi novel, the album takes hold of the listener and doesn’t let go before it is all over.
The fantasy/sci-fi theme makes Epica ideal for reading, dreaming, or creative work. I also believe that the overall atmosphere and build-up – its epic qualities – makes it very hard to stop. The listener needs to know how the journey ends. And unlike a book, it is much easier to relive its finest moments again and again – which comes in handy since the album is only 36 minutes long.
6. AVA – Wildflower
Listening to AVA’s debut album “Wildflower” for the first time feels like opening a treasure chest and somehow knowing what is inside, as if by magic. From the moment AVA starts singing, fans of Enya and Loreena McKennitt will experience powerful déjà vu moments. “Wildflower” is a deeply personal, engaging, and surprisingly well-made album that any of the before mentioned artists would have been proud to call their own.
AVA is the name under which Irish singer/songwriter Éabha McMahon presents her solo work (the phonetical spelling of Éabha). Éabha has already garnered world attention for her outstanding unique voice, firstly as part of Anúna, the internationally renowned Irish Choral group, and then recording and touring with the globally successful Irish music collective Celtic Woman with whom she received her first Grammy nomination. Let there be no doubt: AVA is a New Age music superstar in the making!
7. Louis Anthony deLise – A Gift of Moments
A Gift of Moments by Louis Anthony deLise is a delightful and incredibly well-made homage to love. It is also a reminder to us all that time spent with someone we love, even during quarantine, is a precious gift. It is Louis Anthony deLise’s best album to date.
The finest piece on the album is “The Heart of an Angel”. It is one of those rare melodies that fill the room with a sense of magic and wonder. The first time I heard it, I immediately added it to my personal “all-time best” list. In terms of compositions, it is a jewel – even coming from a true expert like Dr. DeLise. It is proof that great art always has a soft-spoken, “show, don’t tell” quality. Its graceful elegance shows that this is an artist at the very height of his abilities.
Nostalgic but never sad, romantic yet not overly sweet, A Gift of Moments is the ideal soundtrack for some of life’s best of moments. deLise’s message is: Start treating these moments as a gift – and immense gratitude will follow.
8. Omar Akram – The Light Will Come
Many solo piano releases have a timeless quality. The genre usually rises above current events, focusing on constants such as the passing of seasons or the experience of emotions such as love and loss. Omar Akram’s new album “The Light Will Come” is radically different. It is inspired by the events and effects of the recent world pandemic – and the piece “For George” is a composition dedicated to the memory of George Floyd. The piano pieces are delicate, soothing, and, most importantly, profoundly optimistic – promising us that after all this darkness, the light will come.
The Light Will Come by Omar Akram is, in short, a monumental release! It describes the time we live in brilliantly – and 10 or 20 years from now, it will be a testament to what we felt during this challenging time in our history. “The Light Will Come” proves that Akram is one of the finest New Age music artists ever.
9. Michelle Qureshi – Within
“After all, the true seeing is within,” George Eliot said. Listening to Michelle Qureshi’s new album Within, I see how true this quote is. “Within” contains nothing less than 24 pieces that capture the atmosphere of an emotion, ambition, or intention. “Within” is filled to the brim with déjà vu moments, so clear and telling that you don’t even have to look at the names of the pieces to understand what they are all about. Michelle Qureshi has delivered a timeless and ambitious release that finds its way to the listener’s heart surprisingly fast. That is the power of Within.
Like a well-written collection of short stories, each of the 24 pieces has something essential to tell about everyday inner experiences. The short format also means that the listening is very effective. You don’t have to listen to it back-to-back each time. Michelle Qureshi’s new album is, in short, too good to miss. It is that kind of album you want to have within reach.
10. David Wahler – Currents
Currents by David Wahler contains 17 new pieces. “Each piece tells a story’,” says David. “Hopefully they will transport you to a musical world into which you can relax and dream.”
“Like many of you, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands these past months,” continues David. “I’ve spent that time to good use in my studio. Currents is different from my past albums. I’ve chosen to focus on the piano (my first love!) and explore my feelings and emotions during this time. I present to you my “miniatures” – songs of 3 minutes or less,” concludes David.
Wow, what a list of music! Congratulations to all! 🙂
Or if you want to check out the chart for individual months in 2021, here are the links: