The word 'tranquility' is described as "the quality or state of being tranquil; calm". If you were to apply that definition to the title of this project from guitarist, Les Sabler, you would also want to add "invigorating, melodious, and outright sophisticated". Tranquility is the first album in four years from the Canadian born guitarist, now calling Nashville home and rest assured, worth the wait it is. Sabler held nothing back on this album, enlisting the production and songwriting talents of two-time Grammy winner and producer, Paul Brown, as well as songwriters/musicians Lew Laing, Shane Theriot and Paul Carruthers, in addition to a host of veteran and seasoned performers to back him up.
Sabler's release is a collection of 10 songs, 9 of them originals, and quite frankly, pure works of art. Fans were given an early preview with the 2020 release of the first single, In The Light, a bouncy groove of guitar and horn arrangement that very deservedly earned it the #1 spot on The Wave Top 10. There is a strong possibility of matching that feat with the new single, Crescent City Strut, strutting its way to popularity with another sweet arrangement of guitar and brass and just as uplifting a melody. City Rhythm and Easy Moves are very complementary to the mood and energy of the aforementioned tracks, with the latter adding Carruthers on guitar and synth and Roberto Vally on bass, resulting in one of the most infectious melodies your brainwaves could ever absorb.
Though the word 'tranquility' might give the impression of cerebral, docile, or sleepy when applied to music, Tranquility is anything but. Sabler and company do mellow out on tracks like Esselle's Dance and Where Has She Gone, but in a superb and relaxing way with richness and fluidity that I found irresistibly smooth.
There is one important element or X Factor regarding the album that must be emphasized. In addition to Brown's songwriting, performing and production contributions, he was also responsible for one pivotal thing and that was a change-up in Sabler's go-to instrument. As he explains, "When Paul and I began the first session at his studio, he handed me his vintage Gibson Johnny Smith and that guided my playing into a new direction and tone". Sabler adds, "I reflected on the sense of recording in the room and imagined that vibe during the remote sessions in Nashville after acquiring a similar guitar model".
The Brown influence obviously worked and the result, in my opinion, is a new elevated sound that looks to become Sabler's new signature style.
Reviewed by Stu Berketo
Wave On-air Host