Sunday, April 23, 2006

Honey On My Grave - Abbie Gardner

Abbie Gardner has released a collection of songs on "Honey On My Grave" that puts on full display a degree of complexity and range of musical influence that is rarely equaled. Gardner, also a member of the Appalachia-based group Red Molly, blends together multiple genres throughout the CD, and it is that mixture of styles that becomes her greatest strength. "Honey" finds a voice in pop, blues, Appalachia, torch songs, bluegrass, and folk. It is impossible not to be excited as each new track approaches, wondering what Gardner will do next.

Some songs will sound familar to everyone, such as "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Hit the Road Jack," the former sensually alluring and the latter done with a poignant simplicity and fortitude. Gardner's vocal range comes forth on "Ain't Misbehavin," but also on songs such as "Honey On My Grave," and "Breath Again" in unique and interesting ways. All her efforts provide the listener with a sense of passion, intensity, heartfelt emotion, and a bit of the rascality so evident in Gardner's live shows.

The playfulness that comes out in those live shows is most clearly revealed in Gardner's fan favorites "Caffeine" and "Ohio." You don't get any of Gardner's jokes on this CD(come on Abbie, tell us the one about the antenna wedding!), but her clever charms are wide open for viewing on these songs. What makes "Ohio" particularly fun is in the knowing that it was inspired by the first word Gardner came upon while watching TV - a song was born from a seeming nowhere.

Abbie Gardner is an accomplished musician as well, and her trademark dobro can be found throughout the various tracks of "Honey On My Grave." However, Gardner has also surrounded herself with an array of skilled artisans that are up to the task of keeping pace with her. Matt Munisteri, guitar, Peter Carr, banjo, Benny Rietveld, bass, and fellow Red Mollyer, Laurie MacAllister, background vocals, shine in support. Pat Wictor joins in on a duet to end the CD,"You Got To Move," that is a wonderful closing number to a great eleven songs.

Abbie Gardner is an incredible talent, vocally, instrumentally, as a songwriter, and through her presence. "Honey On My Grave" is a testament to all of those marks of skill that she possesses. I have my copy. Why don't you have yours?

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