Hard Garden review,,,January 8, 2014…

HARD GARDEN

BLUE YONDER

HARD GARDEN MUSIC   HGM  004

I FEEL EVIL–DEPOT BLUES–HEY NOW MARY–PAPA’S IN THE JUKE JOINT–I CAN TELL–THE VALLEY–DANGEROUS–POUR ME ANOTHER–MAXIMUM INSECURITY (HG REMIX)–SHOWTIME!–DANGEROUS (SCUDDER REMIX)

Hailing from Seattle, the trio that comprise Hard Garden—Son Jack, Jr. on guitar and vocals, Michael Wilde on harp and vocals, and Garrett Williams on bass, keys and drums-take the grunge-inspired rock of that city and mixes it with the deepest, darkest blues of the Delta and the straight-up funk of James Brown.  The result is their brilliant debut, “Blue Yonder,” with its ten originals and one cover.

For a debut, this one takes traditional blues in a decidedly-different direction thru the extensive use of the percussive skills of Garrett and the booming, Doomsday vocals of Son Jack, Jr. That’s the thing that hits you first, in the ominous opener, “I Feel Evil.”  A young man’s coming-of-age at the hands of an overly-aggressive woman is documented in the acoustic-themed, marching beat of “Hey Now Mary,” while “Showtime!” explores the opposite end of the band’s wide spectrum, as it rides over Son’s quirky raps and Michael’s harp, and a horn section so funky you’ll expect to hear somebody shoutin’out to Maceo!!

Michael Wilde takes the vocal spotlight on one of the strongest, yet darkest, cuts on the set.  “The Valley” traces the lives of a family beset by the abandonment of the child by the father, and the subsequent suicidal tendencies of the mother.  The ending is tragic, in keeping with the song’s underlying thread of “it’ll all be better when I’m gone.”

We had two favorites, too.  Son’s deft picking on Son House’s “Depot Blues” is augmented by echo-effect vocals, Michael’s country-blues harp, and the hellhound-on-my-tail percussive strikes from Garrett. And, the demise of the American Dream is perhaps the best reason that “Papa’s In The Juke Joint shakin’ it down,” with its Hill-country vibe.

Hard Garden has taken the old-school blues and given them a decidedly-urban remix by way of the sounds of Seattle.  “Blue Yonder” screams for an encore, hopefully in the near future!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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