There's a reason most New Age music doesn't have lyrics. It's a genre meant to elicit reflection and meditation, so adding words serves no other purpose than to distract.
The new album by Madison's Erik Kjelland isn't New Age, but the delicate instrumentation and unhurried tempo of these tracks forge an introspective mood. That's why the best passages are lyrics-free. The three-minute leadoff piano solo sets low-octave chords against high-octave notes. The contrast suggests emotional complexity.
Too often, Kjelland doesn't allow his lush, evocative music to speak for itself. This is especially true on "Long Dark Tunnel," a track where brooding guitar and lonely harmonica join to make a mysterious sound. The verses stumble awkwardly over it. "While my eyes they burn, no lesson learned could ever blink in time to save them," sings Kjelland.
On "Lost at Sea, Looks Like Rain," the words work because the track has plenty of structure. It's a promise of things to come should Kjelland's words and music find harmony.