Pete Gardiner seems to have more of a handle on what’s happening around him than most but unlike most, he’s got the words to paint the big picture for us. In the follow up single to the excellent ‘Bourbon and the Truth’ he is telling us to pick our side!
The landscape around us at the moment and over the last few years has given Pete new impetus, new inspiration and new focus, but in a world where everything is changing, and not always for the better, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the ability of this incredibly talented songsmith to put that landscape into words. Pete Gardiner is not pulling his punches; he’s firing from both barrels and he won’t stop shooting till he hits someone.
Pete will be the first to admit that he was feeling like the easy inspiration of his youth in Northern Ireland, the “colourful cast of criminally insane characters” he knew, their “alcohol laden adventures”, and the melodrama of growing up in Newtownards had all been replaced with a self imposed exile in a caravan with no real attachment to town or community.
Suddenly, growing up in a tight knit area with all that that had involved, which had given him an incredible pool from which to draw his lyrical inspiration, had been replaced with an isolated existence which made him feel he had nothing to get his teeth into. And so, with ‘Pick Your Side’, Pete starts from this introspective place before building into something altogether more worldly. His view on what he has realised, like so many of his musical inspirations, was his true calling; hard hitting, unequivocal social commentary on the things that are affecting us all and the choices that come with them.
Pete Gardiner has lost none of his poetic use of vocabulary but his focus has turned outwards and it really feels like he’s growing into his songs as his world gets bigger. And so this is the pattern of the new single; introspection on a personal level which drifts into an inspection of all the things on the worldwide stage.
As Pete tackles the chaos he sees in the world, the dramas that are constantly unfolding, and the juxtaposition of this and a new calmness in his personal life he has taken on issues like Brexit, climate change, Donald Trump and even Covid 19 and turned them into grist for the mill. He moves from introspection to a world view with his usual aplomb, with customary panache and, whilst the subject is serious, there is still his tongue in the cheek approach. The single artwork shows a Fred Astaire like Pete gliding across the dance floor of the social landscape with ease.
Production is clever. The musicality is almost deliberately jaunty as the lyrics get sharper and it means that the song works on many levels. Catchy and singalong on the surface, but intelligent and challenging underneath. Like so many of Pete’s songs , the joy is increased with every listen as you unpick the gems within the lyrics with so many references it’s impossible to list. And, in fact, unfair to do so. The pleasure of the pudding is in the eating; the pleasure in a Pete Gardiner song, especially this one, is the Pandora’s box of lyrics that unfold…even Good Will Hunting gets a mention!
Over the last eight weeks Pete Gardiner, like so many young artists, has been giving his time to bring his music and personality to our living rooms by performing live on social media. It’s been a new adventure for him as at 5pm every Friday he spends at least an hour singing his own material and songs that have inspired him to all the corners of our world. He regularly gets lots of overseas interest and it has been a joy to watch him grow in this new world. He will sing the new song live this evening and I urge you to tune in; Pete’s easy to find on Facebook.
Whilst we quite rightly stand at our front doors and applaud the heroes of Covid 19, I can’t help thinking that we sometimes might overlook the artists who have lost any ability to support themselves.
Not the millionaire singers that have been doing great things with the safety net of their popularity, whom I equally value, but the young men and women who have opened their homes to us, faced their insecurities and entertained us, kept us happy, sane even and it would be great if as many people as possible could tune into Pete Gardiner at 5pm, listen to this excellent single and possibly say thank you to him, and all the other super young artists, by downloading their music.
“Pray for rain and rain shall come…”