Shabason, Krgovich & Harris Show Why Adult Contemporary Is So Cool on 'Philadelphia'

BY Bryon HayesPublished Sep 17, 2020

New age — as a musical genre, at least — has been given a second life this last decade, with musicians such as Laraaji, J.D. Emmanuel, and Iasos achieving something greater than cult status among the cognoscenti. Pair those astral-tinged vibrations with the recent resurgence of the smooth, jazz-inflected music from the likes of Sade and you have a playground for contemporary explorers to let loose. It's in this perfect storm of subdued influences that Philadelphia achieved its genesis.

Nicholas Krgovich (P:ano, No Kids), Joseph Shabason (DIANA, Destroyer) and Chris Harris are friends who coalesced around new age sentimentalities, sketching out tracks from a distance before convening in Toronto to lay their final vision to tape. What arose from those conjuring sessions is a smoky blend of well-tempered jazz, nearly-still new age, and exploratory adult contemporary vibes. The music is hushed, steady and patient. Synths flourish, horns intonate and a slippery bass swerves all over the place.

This revivalist, or revisionist, take on the smooth sounds of the '90s takes a bit of an ironic turn when considering Krgovich's lyrics. Rather than dwelling on matters of the heart – as most crooners of that decade were apt to do – the songwriter focuses on enlivening the mundane, dreamily ruminating on his immediate surroundings. His voice rises and falls in tone, creating drama and a sensuality that is completely removed from the lyrical content itself.

The title track is a lush take on Neil Young's theme for the 1993 film of the same name. It's a hypnotic version that inevitably sums up the musical theme of this album: nostalgia as viewed through a contemporary lens.
(Idée Fixe)

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