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  • Jonathan Widran

ADAM PALMA, Second Life

Though it’s not exactly what the title of Adam Palma’s brilliantly conceived and vibrantly expressed fourth album Second Life refers to, the multi-talented artist leads a fascinating double life as a professor of musical arts (and lecturer at The Music Academy in Gdańsk in his home country Poland) and renowned guitarist who is lauded and invited to play around the world by greats like Al Di Meola, Tommy Emmanuel, and Biréli Lagrène, in addition to performing with top Polish classical and jazz artists.

His acclaimed 2019 album Adam Palma Meets Chopin is notable as the first ever to present Chopin pieces in arrangements for the acoustic guitar (while also earning him cover features in guitar mags in Germany and Italy. With Second Life – which keeps his passion for all things Chopin flowing via a thoughtful take on “Mazurka in A Minor” and a dramatic, virtuosic romp through “Etude in C Minor” – he breaks more historic ground by creating the first-ever full album featuring acoustic guitar and string orchestra on every track. Yet in ensembling with the Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio AMADEUS led by Agieszka, Palma’s focused not just on musical history but his own life story, told eloquently, artfully and often dramatically from the perspective of having regained his life after waking up from a 44 day induced coma in 2020.

While pondering a potentially dark future without making music and focusing on rebuilding himself both physically and mentally, he thought back to his ten-year-old self begging his parents to buy him a guitar – and how inspired by Polish traditional music he was growing up. With those poignant past and present emotions propelling his artistry anew, he sets out on Second Life to share, over the course of 13 tracks and one hour, his unique takes on personal favorite film themes, a patriotic song, even an old scout song.

With the exception of the Chopin pieces – played for the first time ever on acoustic guitar – most of these selections will feel obscure for those not from Palma’s own culture. So we can think of it as a glorious introduction to whimsy-filled, high adventure, Palma arranged gems by composers like Felks Nowoiejski and Edward Pałłasz (“Stokrotka”). Complementing these are five originals which truly express the powerful excitement of a musical heart and soul on the mend – including the gently wistful “Grandma,” the Chopin inspired epic, virtuosic showcase “Medley for Guitar & Chamber Orchestra” and the tenderhearted, autobiographical ballad “My Polish Heart.”


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