As ever, watching Abbie Gardner play the Dobro is mesmerising. Greatly skilled, she makes it look effortless and she also plays with a delightful sense of joy, taking pleasure in the performance and sharing her infectious smile. The former member of Red Molly plays her Dobro with energy, performing here with a distinctive, rhythmic style, and her voice is warm and melodious, soaring in the choruses.
In song, Dolly Parton asked the question ‘Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?’ and with this new single, Gardner gives her answer: ‘Only All the Time.’ Though the original sounds upbeat, it’s full of regret and lost love. Gardner explains why she chose to write her answer to the question: “Red Molly covered that song, and it occurred to me that since it was written as a question, we had the opportunity to answer it. We’d like to say, yes, Dolly, we think of you, ‘Only All the Time.'” Written in collaboration with Red Molly bandmate Molly Venter, Gardner’s response is typically tuneful, with a melody to sing along to. The lyrics deliver a sensitive look at how love can last in many forms after a relationship has ended and convey a wistful sense of what might have been.
In recent years, Gardner has shared stages with the likes of Lori McKenna and Martina McBride, while also collaborating in the studio with David Olney and Chris Stapleton. Faced with an enforced pause in her touring schedule at the beginning of the pandemic, Gardner used her time productively. This song is from the newly released album ‘DobroSinger’, which finds Gardner in fine form, fingers sliding and dancing on her strings. Her first solo record since 2018’s ‘Wishes on a Neon Sign’ was recorded in a tiny closet studio at home and the resulting songs are intimate and reflective. Though her performance is polished, there’s a likeable rawness to the stripped-back acoustic style. Check it out.