# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Steve Gardner - Bathed in Comfort

  by Stephen Simkin

published: 8 / 5 / 2017

Steve Gardner - Bathed in Comfort
Label: Steve Gardner
Format: CD


Extraordinary new album from British amateur musican Steve Gardner, which was recorded in San Francisco with Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express

There is a remarkable story behind Steve Gardner’s debut release, 'Bathed in Comfort'. A Yorkshire-born Brit, Gardner had been writing songs in his spare time for a number of years. So far, so conventional. But while most of us amateur musicians are happy to write and sing for ourselves, at open mic evenings or in part-time bands, Gardner took things a step (or, rather, a giant, zero gravity leap) further: he emailed the professional musician he admired the most, attaching the lyrics of a song about a faded rock star, asking said musician whether he would be interested in bringing these songs to life. A year later, Gardner found himself in San Francisco, preparing for what would be the first of two weeks over the course of a year in the studio with Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express. Fortunately, the album that Prophet produced, assisted by compadre Matt Winegar (who acted as artistic midwife and co-producer on Prophet’s recent 'Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins' (YepRoc, 2017)), is no less remarkable than the tale of how it all came to be. It is a tribute to Prophet’s genius as a musician, arranger and producer that he was able to fashion a genuinely intriguing, quirky, fun rock’n’roll album out of Gardner’s raw material. There are a couple of little classics here, some very solid pieces, and the occasional example of “over writing” in evidence, as one might expect on any debut. But the album that Gardner took home across the pond is much greater than the sum of its songs. The opening track, ‘Rosalie’, sets the agenda – banjo, fuzz guitar, ethereal keys and James DePrato’s searing slide drives a masochistic love song on a loping beat. The album moves between vintage-sounding shuffles like ‘I’m Gone’, bigger production numbers such as ‘Take Me Down’ (reminiscent of 'Hurting Business' era Prophet) and the tremendous ‘Lance Gardino’, and tender, piano-led excursions: particularly noteworthy are the moving ‘I Can’t Walk Away’ and the chilling murder ballad ‘The Miller’s Daughter’ which is graced with haunting, spectral backing vocals from Mission Express secret weapon Stephanie Finch. The album’s quirkiness and off kilter charm owes more than a little to Steve Gardner’s own vocals. By no means a conventional rock’n’roll voice, there is something very striking about his straight-laced, British baritone, set against the quintessential American rock’n’roll sound that defines the Mission Express. His voice may be rather limited in range and expressiveness, and struggles a little on a sparse ballad such as ‘Picture of You’, but when set in the musical playground of Prophet’s band let loose to explore their collective imagination, more often than not, somehow, it just works. The surefire novelty hit (in a parallel universe) ‘The Day the Aliens Saved the World’, appears in two versions and the difference between them perhaps illustrates best the essential element Prophet and Winegar injected into Gardner’s material. The take identified as the ‘country version’ skips briskly, whipped along by dobro and snappy acoustic strum, and is probably closest to the sound Gardner had in his head before the sessions. But it is knocked into a cocked hat by the manic version Prophet insisted on developing: it sounds like Kraftwerk jamming with a garage band in one of the trapezoidal echo chambers Les Paul had built beneath Capitol Records in L.A., and it rocks. Steve Gardner has every right to be proud of what he has achieved with this album. A musical adventure story with a happy ending, you can read more about the making of it via his entertaining blog, sample the album and order it on CD or vinyl at https://www.stevegardnermusic.com/

Track Listing:-
1 Rosalie
2 The Day the Aliens Saved the World
3 I Can't Walk Away
4 I'm Gone
5 Picture of You
6 Take Me Down
7 Aliens (Country Version)
8 What Would I Do?
9 I Forgot
10 The Miller's Daughter
11 Peter the Astrophysicist
12 Lance Gardino

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