• Jonathan Widran

DEAN AND DUDLEY EVENSON, Monet's Garden

In the vibrant photo collage at the heart of the CD packaging for legendary new age husband and wife duo Dean and Dudley Evenson’s soulful and tranquil, spiritually transcendent yet deeply immersive album Monet’s Garden, there is a compelling shot of Dean standing before a black and white image, in a beautiful outdoor setting, of Claude Monet, the founder of impressionistic painting who once called his garden “my most beautiful masterpiece.”

With their striking long white beards and wise sage expressions, the resemblance is uncanny. Looking at the two, and exploring the wealth of visual and musical gifts they have bestowed to the world, we can intuit a meaningful cross century spiritual connection that drew the couple – currently celebrating their 50th anniversary – to explore Monet’s paintings and walk the grounds of Giverny, his home of 43 years, in search of fresh musical inspiration so far from their home base of Bellingham, WA – where they founded their popular independent record company Sounding of the Planet.


Yet those physical similarities are only one aspect of the Dean and Claude connection. A visit to the couple’s website multi-media web page on the project (www.soundings.com/monet) – an absolute must for those who want to fully embrace the richly designed audiovisual experience – reveals many more.


For instance, Monet broke from conventional form and created his own precise yet improvisational style, much like Dean and Dudley’s decades of influential meditative music recordings based on a fusion of Dean’s silver and cedar flutes, keyboard atmospheres and field recordings and Dudley’s harp, hand harp, singing bowls and chimes.


More to the point of the current recording, Monet’s inspiration was deeply rooted in the natural world – ponds, flowers, fields, lilies – some of which the duo brings to glorious musical life on Monet’s Garden on pieces like the mystical opener “Water Lily Nymphs,” a dreamy, whimsical exploration of “Splendid Irises,” a surreal, atmosphere-laden stroll through a “Field of Flowers” and haunting, mystery laden “Pond Reflections.” These tracks and the others feature recordings Dean made of the very prominent (mostly cheery!) birds, flowing water and other natural sounds they heard while they explored the Garden in springtime – inviting us further and more intimately into the experience.


Dean and Dudley’s natural affinity for what they encountered in the beautiful Garden in Giverny is a beautiful extension of the creativity and inner peace they (and their music) have always found in the natural world. Though an ocean and continent away and in a completely different climate, their home and studio are surrounded by many of the same plants that Monet had.


“That Monet could walk out his door and paint the nature around him is so similar to how Dean works his craft,” Dudley says. “Monet loved living out in the country just like we love living at the end of a long road, surrounded by gardens, next to a wild river.”


As we listen to the Evensons’ majestic 66 minute journey – which includes a stop on the “Wisteria Foot Bridge,” some sweet, refreshing and richly blooming “Spring Impressions,” a laid back stroll among the lush “Cascading Willows” and a lullabye-like dreamscape marking “Evening in Giverny” – we can almost imagine Monet himself accompanying his doppelganger and his partner.

In our minds, we can see him guiding them to enjoy sights and sounds which they could then incorporate not only into the musical portion of the project, but the stunning travelogue videos (featuring their performances) they created for “Wisteria Footbridge,” “Water Lily Nymphs” and “Golden Tones” and the gorgeous, impressionistic (of course!) “moving painting” clip featuring a rendering of the couple traversing the pond, created to illuminate “Water Lily Nymphs.” While most listeners will want to experience these on their website or YouTube, Spotify users can also experiences images from these videos for each song.


If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the 80 plus albums Dean and Dudley Evenson have created – generating over a billion steams and downloads in the current era – Monet’s Garden is a perfect opening to experience the splendor of their soothing, soul transforming vibe. Their goal with each recording is to create intentional, peaceful music via songs that honor nature and view the Earth as a maternal figure.


As Dean has said, “The message of Mother Earth and taking care of planet was so important in everything we’ve done,” Dean says. “It’s the foundation for our work, the rock we live on.”


Listen to Monet's Garden here: Spotify – Monet's Garden