Hollie Kenniff ~ The Quiet Drift

A perfectly titled album from one ambient music’s leaders, The Quiet Drift makes the perfect ending to a long, hard day ~ or perhaps to a long, hard season. Hollie Kenniff seems to want nothing more than to soothe, which she accomplishes through guitar  bass, synth and voice.  Kenniff’s husband Keith (Goldmund) contributes piano to two tracks.  We’d call the Kenniffs a power couple, but ambient music isn’t normally associated with that word.  Still, it makes us wonder which is more powerful: the ability to calm or to lift heavy objects?  The ability to gain acclaim for one’s self or to share one’s successes ~ as Kenniff is doing by donating a share of the proceeds to a nature conservancy and a women’s shelter?

Kenniff’s wordless vocals wash over the listener like a blanket or umbrella, whichever is needed.  The album flows like a glacier-fed stream, inspired by a David Lynch quote about drifting, fishing and dreaming.  The Kenniffs have also drifted over the past year, migrating from the west coast of the United States to the east coast and finally north to Canada, conjuring memories of childhood trips.  With titles referencing forests and fog, sunsets and snow, The Quiet Drift is keenly in tune with nature and its incremental shifts.  But the cover image represents a different sort of quiet: the mind in tune with itself, a teacup without motion, love resting beside luck yet content with the cards it has drawn.  The ability to be tranquil while waiting for a carnival ride to begin suggests the larger metaphor of peace during tumult, a shared aspiration for most of the world during the past year.  When Kenniff writes that she carries her creativity within her, instead of being connected to a geographical location, she implies that we might also carry our own forests within us, even if surrounded by high-rises.

The Quiet Drift is an invitation to dream, but even more, to float to islands of inner strength.  Less a drift from than a drift to, the album offers hope that such a destination awaits.  As the press release states, “no one song is meant to be the center of attention.”  But we think it’s worth mentioning the first and last titles, “Flourish” and “This Part of You,” and the fact that Kenniff’s closing notes wrap back around to the album’s opening notes.  As spirit-based bookends to a nature-themed album, these titles highlight the greenery of the human soul.  (Richard Allen)

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