Gabriel Garzón-Montano is a critically applauded, Brooklyn-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has received attention for a genre-defying take on contemporary soul and pop, as his work draws from his French-Columbian-American heritage, Bach, cumbia, funk and soul, and the wild, adventurous multiculturalism familiar to a native New Yorker; but arguably one of the biggest influences on his work and his career was his mother, who was a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s. And as Garzón-Montano has publicly mentioned, his mother is the main reason he loves music, and her rigorous, classical instruction along with her painstaking attention to detail, managed to influence his own creative process.
Garzón-Montano’s long-awaited full-length effort Jardín was released earlier this year and it comes on the heels of a three year period of rather intense touring, writing, revising and recording that interestingly enough began his 2014 debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Hula, which caught the attention of Lenny Kravitz, who invited the Brooklyn-born-and-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter to open for him during his European tour that year. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, Garzón-Montano’s “6 8” was sampled on Drake‘s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, which led to tours with Glass Animals and his renowned Stones Throw Records labelmate Mayer Hawthorne.
Jardín was recorded with his mentor, analog recording guru Henry Hirsch at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY last year and during the recording sessions Garzón-Montano tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano and synths directly to 2-inch tape, and then added percussion, digital programming and several layers of his own vocals to create the album’s overall lush sound — a sound that reportedly nods at Stevie Wonder‘s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. “I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is – how delicate their hearts are. A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I’ve always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky,” Garzón-Montano explained in press notes. Naturally, our current sociopolitical climate has influenced a great deal of the material on the album, as thematically it focuses on the struggles and uncertainties of living in America but it’s balanced our by its equal focus on the complications and joys of love.
Earlier this year, I wrote about Jardín’s first single “Crawl,” a single that effortlessly meshed hip-hop, 90s neo-soul and contemporary pop with a slick production consisting of ambient synths, twinkling keys, a wobbling bass line, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, and a sharp and swaggering hook are paired with Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals. The album’s second and latest single “My Balloon” continues in a similar vein as twinkling keys, shimmering guitar, a sinuous bass line, glitchy electronics and shuffling beats are paired with Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals — tinged with the aching regret of a confusing relationship with someone who isn’t quite on the same emotional or mental space as you are. And while the song’s narrator seems to proudly suggest that he’ll move on with his life, there’s a sense that it’s nothing more than hurt pride — and that he knows the lingering possibility of what should have been and what could have been will be a part of his life for some time.
Directed by Santiago Carrasquailla, the recently released music video for “My Balloon” was filmed with a painterly quality on location in Cartagena and Las Islas del Rosario, Colombia. As Garzón-Montano says of the video’s concept, “It’s a series of portraits of a heartbroken couple who are in beautiful places at the wrong time.” And as a result, the video possesses a similar wistful ache for something beautiful that should have been and could have been, if both people weren’t so fucked up.