April 4, 2020
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Student band Ornamental brings indie sound with debut album

By Alex Baldino 
Correspondent

It’s easy to lose your rockstar dreams in the droning hallways and classrooms of adolescence, but it’s also possible to make them reality. Ornamental has done just that. 

The band released its first album,“Heirloom,” on February 28, which mixes soft vocals with a soft guitar twang, creating an intimate and introspective atmosphere.

Ornamental describes itself as an alternative folk/indie rock band. The group is led by frontwoman Lucia Gardiner, a junior fine arts major who is on vocals and guitar. Gardiner is joined by guitarist Evan Whitenack, a senior communication studies major, bass player Luis Vera, a senior music technology major, keyboardist John Carone, a student at Rider University and drummer Jarrett Wenzel.

Gardiner is the band’s frontman and primary songwriter. (Photo courtesy of Lucia Gardiner)

Ornamental’s music combines Gardiner’s touchingly personal and nostalgic lyricism with the ambience, sampling and flare of her band. Its major influences include Brooklyn-based indie-pop group Florist, ambient indie-pop musician Grouper and South African indie-folk and blues singer Alice Phoebe Lou.

The album has a steady pace that coincides with the themes of its songs. In the song “Blur,” Gardiner recounts the conflicting feelings of a past relationship and the raw emotions a person feels for their first love. 

While the band’s music presents an alternative folk and indie rock feel, the twang to its rhythm is sometimes reminiscent of beach rock, which makes a listener feel as if they are floating. This sensation also adds to the overall feel of the album — it feels like sleeping on a waterbed.

I would definitely recommend checking out track nine, “Hushed.” Like the rest of the album, it starts off with some simple guitar riffs and Gardiner’s head voice. But after about a minute, the entire band joins into the song, becoming the musical equivalent to floating around a lazy river at night.

Ornamental, according to Gardiner, started as a solo project. Gardiner did not start writing music and playing the guitar until right before she graduated high school, after a childhood of singing in her school choir. 

“(It turned into) something much more than I ever had imagined,” Gardiner said. “I am so glad some simple songs I wrote in my bedroom have become a fully-nuanced reflection of my life.”

Ornamental’s debut LP, “Heirloom,” was recorded throughout this past winter by Wenzel and is available through Spotify and Good Authority, a label owned and operated by Jack Sofka, a senior communication studies major. 

Simple but well performed, Ornamental’s debut album is a solid listen, as the vocals are pleasing and you can clearly hear the care the band put into it. Next time you’re feeling like you want to explore yourself and your inner thoughts, try turning “Heirloom” on.

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