Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spotlight: Deep by Adam Werner

Deep (subtitled Music to Heal the Soul) is the latest album by guitarist and composer, Adam Werner, whose signature fingerstyle guitar technique has often been compared to that of the late pioneering guitarist Michael Hedges. Comprised of twelve peacefully reflective and melodic compositions spanning forty-four minutes, the album includes alternating arrangements of both solo acoustic and ensemble pieces with subtle vocals in parts, which variably feature guest performances by Samite, Kris Tischbein, Ken Verheecke, Adam Howe, Michael Manring, Kentaro Otsuka, Jim “Kimo” West and Sydney Easton.

Lending his mesmerizingly soothing vocals to the unforgettable first track, “Sage & Sand (for Tristan)”, is Ugandan singer and former Windham Hill Records artist, Samite, whose own music I’ve long been a fan of. A spellbinding fusion of contemporary acoustic and world music, atmospheric textures envelope gentle acoustic guitar, as Adam additionally lends bass and percussion while Samite plays a captivating flute melody throughout. Moving in like a gentle breeze upon a tranquil landscape is “Thank You”, in which Adam creates stretches of atmospheric tones with eBow guitar along with a rhythmic pacing on acoustic guitar, as Kris Tischbein further underscores the piece with bass guitar. “Footprints in the Fog” is another gem of a composition that exudes a misty atmosphere. Here, Adam plays guitar, bass and percussion accompanied by Ken Verheecke on nylon guitar and Adam Howe on banjo. A lushly beautiful ensemble, each distinguishable instrument becomes part of a most intriguing interplay, which is perfectly carried to conclusion by the distant sound of a cold wind gust. The one-minute “Island Swing” is the sunniest piece on the album, perfectly capturing the Hawaiian spirit with its serenely uplifting ukulele solo. The title track, “Deep”, is among the album’s handful of solo acoustic guitar pieces and arguably the most mesmerizing of its kind. Simple yet profound in its contemplative essence, warm, languid tones seemingly paint a picture of a solitary beach and sunset. Equally enthralling is “Psyche vs. Soul”, a subtly stormy piece characterized by sparse, echoing chords that additionally features Kentaro Otsuka on bass as well as Adam Howe on drums and 12-string guitar. “Early Mourning Passage” just as beautifully wraps-up the album as it unfolded. Here, Sydney Easton lends wordless ethereal vocals as repeating guitar notes drift upon a soundscape of eBow guitar, bass and percussion, ultimately fading out with Sydney’s lone vocal intonations.

Sublimely tranquil with an often-melancholic undercurrent that seems fitting for a rainy afternoon, Deep is memorably melodic yet relaxing enough to serve as accompanying music for spa and massage therapies. Echoing the spirit of many classic Windham Hill and Narada Records releases, Adam flawlessly interweaves elements of new age, ambient and world music into contemporary acoustic arrangements, ultimately culminating in what is easily one of this year’s best guitar albums! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album can also be purchased at Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and Google Play.

This review was originally published on Journeyscapes Radio on 06/06/17.