Abbie Gardner is better known at this time for her work in the Americana band Red Molly. She is both a comfortable and a very formidable player of Dobro, lap steel and National bottleneck guitar. She is also one-third of the female harmony in the trio. On this break away for that group work she enlists both her father, Herb Gardner (piano) and her sister, Sarah Gardner (organ), as well as Ben Wittman (drums) and Craig Akin (upright bass). The songs range from hard blues to jazzy vamps to folk songs. Her voice has both the emotional and technical range to sing it all, though there seems more range and joy in her voice when she is singing as part of an ensemble. She does a number of songs with fellow vocalists Robby Hecht, as well as Laurie MacAllister (also a member of Red Molly) and longtime collaborators Fred Gillen Jr. and Beaucoup Blue (David & Adrian Mowry).
On this disc there are eleven tunes and Abbie wrote eight of them and they don't squeeze into any one particular genre. One of the best starts off the disc and it is the one song where are slide guitar work is truly featured up front in the mix. It sounds like it might belong to Son House or maybe be a Ry Cooder tune but it is however credited to her, Break It Slow. Some of the other cuts show blues influences but this one cut really shows her mastery of the slide guitar—she is listed as playing both the National and lap steel guitar on this cut—and it does stand out. The rest of the disc is good however her playing is much more back in the mix, and thus much more subtle, which is a shame because she truly cuts lose here and grabs the listener. The feeling like this doesn't come back until the last cut, Too Soon which again is a slow blues tune that opens with some nice work on the National guitar. She seems to truly stand out with the blues. She has a wonderful voice and has done a masterful job with finding singers that compliment and support her voice. She is someone I intend to follow up on and see what she brings to Red Molly and look at future solo work to see what directions it takes.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles