Andrew Gabbard’s Cedar City Sweetheart proves there’s always room for yet another melodic pedal guitar infused Rodeo Sweetheart record that oozes Neil Young, The Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, (bits of) Seatrain, Country Gazette, and countless other bands that drank from the downhome stilled magical brew the folky 70’s elixir. Sometimes, good current music just needs a little bit of august, melodic, and always eager yeast to rise, yet again.
The first song, ‘Glum And Empty’, honky-tonks with roller-coaster steel pedal guitar, a percussive banjo, simple drums, and Andrew’s earnest sweetened antiquated voice. The tune evokes the casual Neil Young vibe of ‘Out On The Weekend’ from his Harvest record.
Then, ‘Redwood’ accelerates the (not only steel this time!) pedal and pumps rich fuel into a melodic banjo-bounced ride down a “Ventura Highway” which follows in the tread marks of The Nitty-Gritty Dirt Band, The Eagles, The Pure Prairie League, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and even the legit Monkees’ vibe of ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’.
Big compliments, all around!
And the deep melodic singer-songwriter sincerity continues. ‘Cloud Of Smoke’ cuts its grooves into the magic of AM radio nostalgia with a yearning vocal, even more pedal steel, and country spring water pop purity. ‘Smoky Mtn. Prowler’ resurrects the pops of old vinyl memories (in its intro!) and plays a poker hand with music hall piano pulse like perhaps, The Mamas And The Papas with their autobiographical song, ‘Creeque Valley’, with the confession that “No one’s getting’ fat except Mamma Cass”. Nice tunes, all around! And then ‘Lonesome Psychedelic Cowboy’ sips from deep Nashville waters with a river current brushed by Graham Parson’s ‘Hickory Wind’. And…pop, pop, pop, (the catchy music vibe, not vinyl crackles this time!) as ‘Take Me Away From You’ instantly conjures a joyous steel pedaled convertible ride on Route 66, while heading for the California promised Americana land of musical plenty, as vocal harmonies find their own vision of a “Peaceful Easy Feeling”.
Ditto for the acoustic ‘Singin’’. It’s a beautifully brief tune. And ditto, ditto for the big country rock fest of ‘The Move’ and ‘Get Blue’, which, once again conjures the slow beauty of any Nashville Nudie Suit waltzed country sawdust song.
By the way, and just so you know, AG was the third of the sourced tributary behind the very excellent band Buffalo Killers, who fused country with delightful psychedelia, circa The Beatles’ ‘Rain’ or ‘Lady Madonna’.
That said, ‘Cool Ranch’ flips through the pages of any paperback writer’s country dream.
The final song, ‘Yer Time’ll Come’, sings with the heart of pure country. It’s “all of the above” as the vocal harmonies soar, the ever-present steel guitar bends the universe a bit, and all is featherbed all right with the warm echoes of a melodic final good night tune, an always saw dusted floor, and that lovely heartbeat of a country stepped barn danced thought.
Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/andrewgabbardmusic/
‘Glum And Empty’ – live: