Adeline Hotel is the project of New York-based guitarist and vocalist Dan Knishkowy. He just released a new album titled Solid Love which is out via Whatever’s Clever. It features guitarist Ben Seretan, bassist Andrew Stocker, pianist Winston Cook-Wilson (Office Culture), drummer Sean Mullins (Wilder Maker), vocalists Brigid Mae Power and Matt Kivel.
According to the press release, 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.”
Check the full streaming via Bandcamp. We asked them to explain, track by track, the journey and the meaning of each track of the new album.
Dan: A mantra for the record: Find joy. Sung over and over, louder and louder, until it blooms all at once. You hear people say “it could always be worse” and I wanted to flip that, “couldn’t it be better?” It’s about love on the verge of crystallizing, or perhaps starting to melt away.
Ben: I get very laser-focused on the guitar solo in this song – playing it live against Sean’s persistent drumming is, well, one of the joys of my life.
Dan: Undoubtedly the grooviest track on the record, I think this is the band at it’s finest – everyone playing off each other, listening, waiting for that sax solo to take us away.
Ben: I love locking in with Winston on this tune – we bob our heads together during the verses. This is a special song, and it’s most special detail might be the ludicrously tasty handclaps Sean added.
Trying for You –
Dan: Learning to love without resentment is the purest thing I can think of, and I guess that’s what this song is about – the feeling of seeing a parent or child or old friend after a long while. This song is for our friend Devra, who passed away during the recording of this album. Singing with her was an impossible gift, and you can hear her harmonies from a demo recording woven into the coda.
Dan: My favorite song on the record, about falling in love while the crisp fall breeze blows through your open window. My favorite type of song to write, too: a snappy 2 minute verse-chorus, followed by a tightly arranged instrumental section that slowly devolves into a free modal jam.
Winston: I definitely feel like this song took the whole concept of this album to a different place. To me, it feels like everyone in the band expressing their distinct musical personality without compromising, all at once. It’s nice when you play with people enough to know when to play with them and when to play against them a little bit – that’s when good music happens I feel like.
In A Way –
Dan: I wrote the lyrics under the backdrop of the 2016 election, glued to our phones, inundated with the news. The chorus is a reminder to myself that “all this privileged love isn’t enough”, reflecting on a deeper commitment to solidarity and substantive political action.
Andrew: This was one of the few tunes that we recorded over multiple days, adding subtle layers of synths, keyboards, and electronic elements. The latter isn’t something we’ve flexed too heavily in this band but we’re all well versed in ambient music so it was really fun to express that side of things.
Dan: We really stretch this one out live and whip it into a frenzy. It has my favorite lyric on the album, “I want to feel the Salton Sea through my fingers, the weight of every part of me could rise and linger, I want to leave a trace”
Winston: I remember Dan having reservations about this one. I immediately felt this silky, groovier vibe for it but as I remember, we took a little bit to figure out how to approach it. That might be why it’s my fave on the record, because it took a while to get to know it.
Andrew: This is a fun one. Sean and I stay home while all this chaotic, syncopated energy swirls around us like a funky tornado.
Ben: When we play this one live Dan and I lock in on that guitar riff at the end and it just sorta makes it feel like everything is right in the world.
Dan: The lyric “nervous sheets, hospital teeth” is the heart of this one – waiting in a ER room, worried about the person you love. Cut to returning home, finding “joy within the ordinary things,” laughing on the floor together again.
Ben: I love how close this song sounds – Dan really brings you in for a whisper on this one, puts your arm around you and sings something like a secret into your ear.
Takes A Long Time
Dan: I was thinking about a lyric in that Lambchop song, “The Hustle”: “I don’t want to leave you ever…and that’s a long, long time”. I wanted to explore how much possibility there is in forever, both with someone else, and with yourself.