Abbie Gardner,
(independent, 2011)

As a member of Red Molly, Abbie Gardner sings sweet ballads, light bluegrass and applies wonderful harmonies to her two partners' voices. On her solo CDs, she stretches out and shows us the other arrows in her quiver. Hope, her best yet, shows off Gardner's blues chops, with occasional dips into jazz, and traditional country. It's a varied set, unpredictable and capable of going into rhythmically and stylistically different directions, but altogether unified by Gardner's playing and singing and the way she conveys the sheer delight she gets from the act of making music. Long time Abbie Gardner fans will be pleased and newcomers will be seeking out her earlier material.

Not only a fine singer and songwriter, Abbie Gardner has developed into one of the best dobro players in the Unites States. The opening cut on Hope, "Break It Slow," opens with a bluesy, primitive resonator guitar figure that sets up the driving, pulsating quality of the song. Gardner also plays lap steel on the cut and, while she is supported only by a rhythm section, it sounds like a fully fleshed out band is charging through the song.

A few years back, Gardner put out a jazz album, accompanied by her father, the well-known jazz pianist Herd Gardner. He returns on this one, playing on several cuts that take Gardner into jazz territory. While she is right at home there, Gardner does not desert her folk and blues roots; instead her style encompasses all of the various modes and styles and moods she has mastered. And although her voice is sensational, Gardner puts it to rest in her first instrumental, "Do It," a song that features her on dobro accompanied only by a rhythm section.

You expect a lot from a musician of Abbie Gardner's caliber and Hope delivers it.

Be sure to check out some of Abbie Gardner's earlier work, Abbie Gardner and My Craziest Dream.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

11 June 2011

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