You know what they say about first impressions. And when you push play to kick off the opening number of Adeline Hotel’s Solid Love, you might think you’re in for some standard-issue sensitive-dude singer-songwriter stuff. And you could be forgiven for jumping to that conclusion. But this New York combo fronted by troubadour Dan Knishkowy quickly proves to be so much more than that. First and foremost, Knishkowy’s songs are obviously a couple of sharp cuts above the usual lonely, lovelorn laments you get from guys with guitars. But when it’s all said and done, Adeline Hotel’s real secret weapon might be the rest of the band — they decorate and elevate Knishkowy’s tenderliy folky tracks, sincerely poetic lyrics and hushed vocals with stylish, gorgeous work that touches on jam-rock, jazz, post-rock and plenty more. Put it all together and you’ve got a sophisticated, exceptional disc that simultaneously defies and exceeds your expectations. No reservations necessary.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “The record is called Solid Love. Half of that title, at least, should be immediately apprehensible when you listen. The songs Dan Knishkowy writes and sings for Adeline Hotel are tender and frank, disarming in their commitment to treating the sweetness of love and friendship with the gravity and wonder such a subject deserves. The “solid” part might take a little longer to sink in. The band — guitarists Knishkowy and Ben Seretan, bassist Andrew Stocker, pianist Winston Cook-Wilson, drummer Sean Mullins, with a host of others joining in here and there — plays softly and spaciously, with as much emphasis on listening as on making themselves heard. The sound they conjure together is less concrete than the album title lets on: a memory of chance encounter; a few dust motes glowing in a shaft of sunlight, then drifting away from the bedroom window. After years of releasing quasi-solo records with rotating casts of accompanists, Knishkowy assembled a settled band for the first time on Solid Love, each member of which has their own songwriting practice: “Five people with loud playing personalities, playing as quietly as possible,” as he puts it. In the unshowy intricacy of its arrangements, and in Knishkowy’s plainspoken delivery, Solid Love sometimes recalls Jim O’Rourke’s songwriter albums; in its languid gait and jazzy rhythmic elisions, it may bring to mind John Martyn. Verses blooming into choruses, chords changing with few hard distinctions between them — the songs revel in a kind of musical ambiguity that only comes when the players are intimately attuned to their companions, a looseness that seems to arrive paradoxically from deep togetherness. “Solid is less definitive, more a changing of state,” Knishkowy says. “On the verge of crystallizing, or beginning to melt away.”