‘DobroSinger‘ represents and encompasses the gloriously intricate relationship between Gardner and her guitar.
Purists will love this album, but even better than that, if you’ve not previously been particularly into the Dobro sound, then this album will surely convert you. It is immaculately played and highly accessible. Gardner’s lyrics are sensitive, reflective, and perhaps personal in their content. Yet, they are also generic in that we can all relate to the subject matter, at least in part.
The opener, ‘Down the Mountain‘, showcases Gardner’s signature Dobro sound and distinct vocal style with a Deep South lament in “take my trouble down the mountain, I can’t carry it no more“. Gardner then delivers a stunning response to Dolly Parton’s ‘Do I ever Cross Your Mind‘. ‘Only All The Time‘ is a work of absolute beauty. A wonderfully sparse arrangement in which Gardner and her Dobro work together exquisitely. Written by Gardner and Molly Venter (Red Molly’s), ‘Only all the Time‘ is destined to be a true classic. The video was featured by AUK last month and is a must-watch. Gardner’s performance is faultless, and to quote fellow writer Andrew Frolish, watching Gardner play the Dobro is truly “mesmerising”
Delicate charm features throughout ‘DobroSinger‘. Not least in ‘Cypress Tree‘, a confident directive in which Gardner states, “Don’t kill what’s living… when I’m through with my body, and my soul is set free, don’t make my casket from an old cypress tree”. The Dobro may be a little less delicate here, but nevertheless perfectly compliments the song’s sentiment. Likewise, the hardships of being ‘Born in the City‘ are expressed with an objective but fun approach. The album is the intimate result of Gardner recording in her home studio during lockdowns, with the lively bluegrass ditty ‘Honky Tonk Song‘ fully capturing her sense of humour, fun, and chuckles.
Other songs on the album that will be running for classic status include ‘When We Were Kids‘. This profoundly moving reflection of a sibling’s love and tragic loss reaches deep. The Dobro sound adds affirming gravitas as it follows and supports Gardner’s vocal impeccably. ‘Three Quarter Time” is a tender but richly arranged waltz, another fantastic showcase of Gardner’s lyrical ability. Finally, ‘One Too Many Kisses‘ is a delightful, graceful account of love and lust following a night out. Again a gracefully simple arrangement makes this a stand-out song.
Two well-selected covers close the album. ‘Those Memories of You‘ by the multi-talented Alan O’Bryant of The Nashville Bluegrass Band showcases some spectacular guitar parts from Gardner. This leads to her beautiful cover of ‘You Belong to Me‘, written by the three late great country artists, Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart and Chilton Price. Gardner leaves us with more of her breathtaking, soaring vocal and spectacular Dobro playing.