So, imagine this scenario. You are given a bar of silver, which has been beautifully polished and shines in the light. You are so taken with this gleaming beauty that you can’t stop picking it up and polishing it. Eventually, you suddenly realise that the beautifully produced silver coating is wearing away and not seeming so perfect but, revealed underneath is something so much better: a bar of solid gold. This is how Pete Gardiner’s debut album ‘Ashtray Black’ will affect you: once your ears become accustomed to the perfect pop production, they will start to only hear the poetic lyricism and social comment of this excellent singer songwriter. So much so, that you wonder why you weren’t given the solid gold bar originally.
Pete recently posted on Facebook about the trials that life had thrown at him in the time it had taken him to get his album released including heartbreak, alcoholism, moving house and ending up in A&E forty one times. All of these life experiences are poured into the lyrics of every song on ‘Ashtray Black’. Even in the excellent opening track ’11 o’clock’, hidden behind the super catchy chorus and sing-along production is a tale of drinking away his pay check by closing time and alcohol throwing him like a rock to the floor.
I recently had the chance to host Pete in a house gig and when you hear the songs from this album in their stripped back form, there is a searing honesty in his lyrics. Listening to the recorded form, there is a nagging feeling that this may have been lost in production. However, there is a balancing act for a new artist that demands making things radio friendly and having had the opportunity to listen to some of the new stuff Pete is writing, I’m sure he will be around for some time to come. If this album can break into the playlists of local and national radio stations, the catchy production could yet provide the keys to open doors for Pete Gardiner. I hope so.
The album is available now to buy and stream and I’d recommend an early listen. All of Pete’s very strong releases to date are featured, and songs like ‘Idols’ resonate as strongly now as they did when Pete originally released them. Give the songs time to settle and let the poetry wash over you. This is the sort of artist we need to succeed. Intelligent and wordy, Pete thinks he has too many words in his songs for them to be a hit. I hope we have not grown so shallow in our musical tastes that this is true!
The Man In Black once said “you build on failure, you use it as a stepping stone”. Pete has taken life’s trials and tribulations and the things that affect him socially and poured them into every word. It’s no wonder that Nashville is courting this outstanding young artist, after all country music is sometimes described as “three chords and a story”. Whilst I love country music and I’m sure he’d be a huge success, it would be nice that he’s a success at home. As Pete says, “the cigar’s been cut, the champagne’s chilled, the poet’s pen has been refilled!” Let’s hope that’s true!