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John Adorney – The Garland Review

When you think about John Adorney and his music, I’ll bet that evocative guitar solos are not the first that springs to mind. But that is precisely what he has in store for us on his new album, The Garland. He plays more guitar on this album than on any previous albums, but rest assured–it doesn’t change Adorney’s patented sound. And female vocalist Daya is back too. The Garland makes me think of Michael Hedges’ famous quote: “I’m not trying to play the guitar. I’m trying to play music.” It is a statement of how versatile John Adorney really is.

John Adorney is one of the most popular and beloved New Age music artists, and “The Garland” is his 12th solo album. His last effort, Invisible Songbird, was awarded the Best New Age Music Album 2018 award here on New Age Music Guide. Expectations are therefore high when we press play on this new release.

This episode of Dream Mixtape is dedicated to John Adorney. Here you can hear three songs from The Garland; Papiha, Invisible and the title track: 

An Open Door
The Garland is, in every way, a welcoming album. The first piece, “An Open Door,” takes us into a warm and positive sphere. Even though the focus this time is on the guitar, the piano and synth keys are right there in the background, providing the soundscape John Adorney is known and loved for. The Rhodes piano and light rhythm sound amazing even before John takes us to guitar heaven. It is one of those songs that make you feel like there is not a worry in the world, and the future holds nothing but opportunities. It is a fabulous album opener!

Listening to “Faithful Friend” I can’t help feeling both gratitude for the friends I have and thanking Adorney for reminding me of that. The nylon-string guitar shines here. Its delicate sound fits the topic beautifully, while the electric guitar, later on, provides contrast and color. It is a wonderful tribute to faithful friends everywhere.

The Clay Jug
The best artists, in my opinion, are artists with a sense of playfulness. They are so secure in their artistic expression that they can do new and unexpected things, and it will turn out sounding original and unique. “The Clay Jug” is such a piece. John is playing on a melodica, a small keyboard that he controls with his breath. The steel-string guitar, banjo, ukelele and piano join in on the fun too, creating a cheerful vibe.

“Through the Halls of Time“ is a contrast to what we have heard so far. It is a contemplative song, starting with lush synth pads and gentle piano. Then we hear the icy riffs of a Fender Telecaster, which takes the song to new heights. Time is always a fascinating topic, and Adorney gives us some spectacular views of how everything changes in “the halls of time.” It is a slow process, but it is there – like a ticking clock. It is a marvelous piece, reminding us of times gone by.

At this stage, we find ourselves in nature, at the track “Garden and Groves,” and Adorney again plays the melodica. Its sound has a touch of melancholy, backed by guitar, piano, viola and light rhythm. Its simple, folky melody has a laid-back feeling. When “Look Up” comes on next, all of John Adorney’s many fans will feel right at home. His unique style and Daya’s vocal, is as usual, a brilliant mix. The song is delightfully uncomplicated. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming along with Daya.

Love Letters to the Wind
“The Garland” contains 14 tracks, but don’t let that number scare you. You don’t have to listen to it all in one sitting. Think of it as a playlist and that you can start wherever and still get “The Garland Experience.” “Love Letters to the Wind” is a dreamy and a bit sorrowful piece. I love the combination of neoclassical elements, such as the cello, and the hyper-modern synths. Next, notice the build-up on “Effort and Mercy.” There are so many twists and turns, all the way to the end. Or as they say in rock; You always have room for another guitar solo.

In Adorney’s music, there is always a variety of intense, vibrant colors. “A Leaf, a Flower, A Fruit” is a musical vision, a tableau of how a plant grows and develops. The song is filled with a sense of magic, showing how the seasons change. The flute, oboe, and cello sound amazing.

The Garland
The title track is something entirely different, almost like an EP within the album. It is a warm piece, perfect for relaxation and dreaming. Daya’s vocalization, the light percussion and synth arrangement, make this into something special. It is not a song that you can hear only once; It requires something from you. Just like a place, a city, or a country, you will need to revisit it a few times before you “get it.” This piece is almost like a bonus, since the rest of the tracks here are very accessible.

The classical influences are easy to pick up on “A Tear and a Whisper.” It is a sad piece, but it is not without hope. Luck is probably hiding around the corner.

Two of the most beautiful pieces are saved for the last part of the album, namely “Invisible” and “Papiha.” “Invisible” is ambient and modern with a feel-good atmosphere. “Papiha” has a lovely acoustic feel, and of the over 50 guitar elements on this album, some of the best can be found here. That we are almost an hour into The Garland at this stage does not impact the quality at all. “Papiha” is a brilliant composition!

“Seeds of Peace” ends the album in a hopeful way. I love how the piano intro carries a feeling of uncertainty, but as the song progresses, this feeling is replaced by a substantial certainty; Peace is not just a dream but it is a possibility if we all plant seeds of peace wherever we go. The cello sounds divine.

In conclusion: Changing instruments in a piece usually alters the whole expression. But the focus on the guitar on “The Garland” does not change John Adorney’s sound. Even when experimenting with new instruments like the melodica, his fans will recognize his style. The Garland is, in short, another winner from John Adorney.

Score: 95/100 – See our scoring policy

For more samples and information, see Eversound.com