Photo: Chris Bernabeo / Courtesy of the artist

Adeline Hotel’s ‘Good Timing’ Is Therapeutic, Revelatory, and Uniquely Beautiful

Dan Knishkowy's alt-folk collective Adeline Hotel is whittled down to a party of one, with improvised acoustic guitar taking center stage on Good Timing.

Good Timing
Adeline Hotel
Ruination Records
19 February 2021

Solid Love, the 2020 offering from Adeline Hotel, saw the band — led by multi-instrumentalist Dan Knishkowy — embrace a feeling of community. The full band recordings embraced warmth and togetherness, both in the ease in which the musicians locked together and the sweetness and gravitas of the songs’ subject matter. The album tapped into a deeply felt folk ethic that harkened back to classic albums like American Beauty and John Wesley Harding. This time around, things are different but no less compelling.

On Good Timing, Knishkowy plays everything himself. And by “everything”, that’s mainly acoustic guitar: multiple tracks of layered, improvised playing. Besides the title track, the album is completely devoid of lyrics. What emerges from the grooves is a collection of songs that may initially sound sparse and airy but soon reveal themselves as complex and textured. Fans of Solid Love or any of Adeline Hotel’s previous releases may be pleasantly surprised by Knishkowy’s breathtaking skill on the guitar. For instance, the lick that runs through the opening track, “Photographic Memory”, becomes a fantastic jumping-off point for the multiple guitar tracks as each guitar contributes its variations, resulting in something of a fractal bloom of country-tinged folk.

There are certainly nods to the primitivist style of guitarists like Joseph Allred or Daniel Bachman, particularly in some of the slightly noisier parts of songs like “I Have Found It” or “Relate to Joy”. But there are moments of proto-minimalism at work here as well, especially in songs like “Introspection #76”, which contains a great deal of restrained, peaceful repetition. A comparison can be made between Good Timing and Mike Keneally’s moody, folky Wooden Smoke, an album also containing a great deal of quiet, mostly instrumental acoustic introspection. But anyone missing Knishkowy’s vocals will be pleased to hear that he does sing on the title track. However, the singing is more of a mantra that blends in with the deliberate guitar strums to the extent that it’s essentially an extension of the guitars.

Pretty much the worst thing you could say about Good Timing — and this isn’t even really a criticism — is that the songs tend to meld together without an enormous amount of variation. That isn’t problematic, as Good Timing is less an album of songs as it is a series of improvisational pieces that coalesce into one large piece.

According to the liner notes, Knishkowy arrived at the “instinctual approach” of the album during quarantine in the summer of 2020, when more precisely arranged compositions began to feel stifling. “I feel like all records are approximations of your creative process, in a way,” he writes. “But with Good Timing, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to the source.” To call this album a mere collection of songs is vastly underselling it. Good Timing is music to get lost in, music that washes over you. It’s therapeutic, revelatory, and uniquely beautiful.

RATING 8 / 10