The Sweet Autumn Dreams of Indie-Folk Project Adeline Hotel's New Album
When we asked Dan Knishkowy about the newest album, Away Together, from his folk project Adeline Hotel, he told us that it’s about “building a shared language with someone else — and the absurdity that comes with it.” Upon first listen of this dreamy little record, it’s clear that Dan was indeed serious about this subject, though at the same time, mellow.
“There's a lightness to this record — intentionally or otherwise — that felt new to my work,” Dan tells us, “an embrace of contradictions when finding what you're looking for leaves more questions than answers.” On Away Together, Dan (aided by a slew of talented multi-instrumentalist friends) tackles these dualities with great care. Song after song, the album proves that there’s warmth waiting to light up the night, inevitable confusion that follows understanding, and newness that arises from the past.
Away Together opens with “So Long,” a soft alt-country effort featuring warm harmonies and a careful crescendo of multi-instrumentation bubbling up around Dan’s own gentle voice — less a voice, really, than a blanket or a salve or something so comforting it threatens to put you to sleep. It’s our first introduction to how those vocals will serve as the grounding component of this record, a lovely introduction to what is sure to get lovelier. And lo and behold, on “Habits,” it does. Dan actually told The Grey Estates that the track just might be “the first unabashedly joyful Adeline Hotel song,” and he’s probably right. It’s more of the slow-rolling folksy work Adeline Hotel usually employs, but made peppier by piano sparkles and punchy percussion. It’s a sweet take on the fleeting nature of happiness as Dan wonders if love could be synonymous with resting in simplicity. One of the standouts on Away Together is “Some Kind Of Joke.” It starts out rivaling the quiet joy of its predecessor, but devolves into forlorn confrontation. A wild ending appears as killer bass, aggressive drum hits, and the wail of electric merge for a jarring end.
Next comes “Isn’t That Love,” acting as a long-distance thematic and lyrical twin of “Habits.” It’s gentler, back to Adeline Hotel’s indie-folk roots, and Dan’s voice floats like his body is no longer attached to it. Sweet contemplation and the resounding plink of keys coat the song in dreaminess. “Lightning” marks the halfway point of Away Together, a high-energy romp experimenting with garage-rock distortion and quick rhythms. Its inclusion at the direct middle of the record is a brilliant move on Adeline Hotel’s part because its brash, blues-y nature is a total surprise, placed like a gift for us to find and delight in after we’ve made it through the lush bed of indie folk Dan has built. It’s over far too soon though — just over two minutes of rollicking guitar work and spirited melody. On “Looking For The Same Thing,” things tone down exponentially as we return to the tender autumn glow that makes Adeline Hotel so worthy of our ears. Wistful and poignant as Dan sings lines like “I trace you by your clothes across the floor,” lyrically it’s one of the most beautiful tracks on the record, and rhythmically, too — there’s the illusion of searing strings and emotive folk blooming every second of the song until, suddenly, it ends and we’re left with a sense of abandonment, almost, by an arrangement so lovely we didn’t want it to go.
On “Plastic Stars,” Dan’s songwriting talent is once again illuminated under the neon glow of plastic stars on his ceiling. It’s the quickest track on the album, clocking in at just over two minutes as an arrangement of bass warbles, percussive shimmers, and rumbling multi-instrumentation plow along beneath those perfect lyrics. “At Least We Tried” follows, drowsy with meandering folk rhythms tinged by tropical moments. A moody slow-burn, it’s a beautiful ballad touched by twang and earnest songwriting. “Taste The Same” adopts the lightweight indie-folk signature of the record’s first half, swaying and sweet with steel guitar, dreamy harmonies, and soft shakes. Away Together ends with its title track, the perfect end to this album because it doesn’t act as a spectacular, in-your-face conclusion, but instead carefully merges all the best elements that had come before it — like woozy folk twang and gentle vocals — to create a lighthearted culmination like a lull. With this album, Adeline Hotel present a collection of impossibly lovely indie-folk gems each touched by a little something special.
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Featured photo of Dan Knishkowy by Chris Bernabeo