For some time now, New York musician Dan Knishkowy has crafted a rollicking country-rock aesthetic under the guise of Adeline Hotel. Home to pastoral folk melodies and swaying musical rhythms, he also embraces the occasional bit of volume, allowing rockier arrangements to surface from time to time. There’s a familiarity to his work, but it feels comforting rather than tiring, a glimpse into memories and experiences which have shaped us in ways he can’t even imagine. He effortlessly explores the ache and joy of everyday life while honing in on the emotional peculiarities that direct our attentions and attitudes.
On his latest record, “Away Together,” he — along with a collection of musicians including Will Stratton, Ben Seretan, Sean Mullins, Andrew Stocker, Cassandra Jenkins and Mike ‘Slo-Mo’ Brenner (of Magnolia Electric Co.) — has delivered a slice of incisive and fluid folk-rock that can trace its origins all the way back to Laurel Canyon in the ‘60s and ‘70s. A wistful eloquence permeates these 10 tracks, although we do veer towards straight-up indie rock a time or two. He skips around in these sounds, masterfully dodging singer-songwriter stereotypes and folk weightlessness. With opening track, “So Long,” Knishkowy peddles gorgeous harmonies and an alt-country shuffle through his own brand of lyrical awareness. Follow-up “Habits” recalls Uncle Tupelo and the complicated results of that band’s subsequent musical lineages.
Knishkowy favors this sort of introspective storytelling, giving his songs room to evolve or maintain as he sees fit. And while he tends to stay within a certain corridor of sounds, there are moments of unexpected crunch and fervor — like the raucous blues-burner “Lightning” or when he plows through the ferocious and cacophonous ending of “Some Kind of Joke.” Melodies, and their meticulous placement, are critical to seeing the whole picture behind “Away Together.” You often have to step back to see how each song approaches events and emotions differently, even when the music is superficially similar. He uses these particular sounds to evoke open spaces and to elicit past rhythmic associations which might help to bring into focus his own fervent impulses.
He works to bring a substantial weight to a genre known for its fragility and acoustic nature. The songs on “Away Together” aren’t revolutionary because they do something radically different — instead, they are remarkable because they treat their well-worn subject matter with a permanence not usually found within this musical discipline. Knishkowy knows better than to simply retread the work of other artists; he adapts and refurbishes these sounds to better reflect his own personal perspective. This album feels less like a monologue and more like a conversation between old friends, full of camaraderie, communal remembrance and inherent trust. It’s intimate but never voyeuristic, personal but not without deeply held secrets. It’s a gorgeous folk mystery just waiting to be unwound and studied and appreciated.