Gabriel Garzón-Montano croons over “Long Ears” in a D’Angelo fashion, layering several harmonies over himself and others in a chorus of poetry. The percussion clicks; the chords are pensive and oscillate between two notes, like waiting inside a wooden clock for the gears to turn at the time the bird escapes and cuckoos. But the whimsical nature of it all begs Montano’s artistry to be something more, because it is. Montano plays his own guitar, and piano, and bass licks, and sings quite well. Jardín marks the debut of a talent which defies his R&B genre, welcomely, by impressing upon warm vocals and fresh production to its listeners, and yet, triggers the familiarity of beloved artists as well.
What is meant by this is not the reference of style or substance, necessarily, but more of the feeling when listening to Montano’s Jardín. The dynamic voice and harmonization pitches brilliantly on each chorus or hook, such as on “Bombo Fabrika,” layered with “yuhs” and “duhs” in the background to a smooth bass line and that calculated percussive click. The toughest part is placing a finger on where he gathers his thoughts for the lyrics which don’t contrast syncopations amongst it all. Perhaps this is the stand out quality which makes Montano special.
Or more like a stand out quality. Gabriel-Garzon Montano knows exactly what to do on his instruments to pair with his voice. Quirky synths patch this album to a distinct motif, a climbing progression like on a scale, such as on “Fruitflies,” evoking the playfulness in the music. Kicks and chimes are tacked together in a mid-tempo rhythm to keep the pace smooth but reformed. A droning synth crunches quietly in the background, but a sense of doom is evaded by the staccato nature of his bass on high-frequency, a commonality, really, on Jardín. “My Balloon” does this with exceptional detail as well as “Sour Mango” which twinkles with space-like piano and the inclusion of string instruments. The list can go on.
Jardín is even timed correctly, sitting at a comfortable 10 track length, coming full circle with the start and finish of piano. It’s apparent Montano is poised with his chic style of R&B, a heavy-hearted lyrical composition but barring any reference to peers of the genre, old and new. Montano’s Jardín could call upon Miguel at times, or Jordan Rakei, or even Metronomy (for the case of off-kilter production), but in reality, it’s this one-off album from a one-off artist.
And yet, Jardín stays in its lane – the lane is just wider now. We now reach a time of music which excels at combinations and alterations. Rules don’t apply, nor did they really ever, but more so do we see structures of songs and albums defy their origins, Jardín being one of the latest additions. Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s debut makes for a promising artist, skilled on piano and production. Makes it exciting to see what will top it this year.