Chance Gardner

Narrow Reviews…

CHANCE GARDNER – “Americana Soul”

By Narrow Staff

Singer-songwriter Chance Gardner has won five “Hawaii Music Awards,” for Best Rock Album in 2003, “Best Folk Album” in 2005, and “Best Blues Album” in 2003, 2004, and 2006. Those accolades, and genres, are a great prelude toward reviewing his latest album, which contains 14 tracks that feature instruments such as dobro, sax, flute, guitar, and harmonica.

Gardner was born in Cuba, lived ten years in Hawaii, and now calls Daytona Beach home. These home stops make sense for a guy like Chance Gardner because each location represents a unique musical “sound,” which would certainly have an effect on his lifetime of music recording. The new release “Americana Soul” is a Sunday afternoon drive. The laid-back production aesthetic and relaxed vocal delivery on the recording put Mr. Gardner’s simple and direct songwriting in the spotlight, and our first stop on this leisurely drive today is the Jersey Shore.

While we’re not technically equating Gardner to Bruce Springsteen, there are elements of Gardner’s songwriting, production, vocal styling, and choice of instrumentation that evoke the comparison. The first two tracks on the album, the stellar opener “Soft Brown Eyes,” and track #2, “Open Road,” remind of the Springsteen “Tom Joad” period. The songwriting, the feel, even the slide guitar. Then, a little later on the album with tracks “So Far Away,” “Rainbow Lagoon, and “Time Keeps Running Out,” Gardner reaches even deeper into a softer, more soulful sound, where variations of that sound have been tied to other Asbury Park, NJ based acts Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, The Gaslight Anthem, Gary U.S. Bonds, and John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band who struck gold with the wildly successful soundtrack to the movie “Eddie and the Cruisers.” Gardner’s tracks would fit seamlessly into a newer variation, Gardner’s variation, of a Jersey Shore soundscape, while the latter two could easily be mistaken for more current Springsteen tunes as well.  

Driving further south, Gardner takes us closer to Key West for the track “Glass Bottom Boat,” and a fun song reminiscent of listening to Jimmy Buffett while enjoying the sun, and the appropriate liquid refreshments. The word “fun” has to be emphasized here because with spring approaching, the song should end up on many outdoor-focused playlists.

Chance Gardner is a stellar musician and songwriter, and he has assembled a talented cast of musicians on this project, including Daytona’s Marvin Knox on flute and sax. The flute intro on “Melody” is a standout effort, as is the work on “More in Love with You.” Gardner even takes us back in time, perhaps to the Midwest, to a modern sock hop of the 50’s with “Don’t Fall in Love.”

Northeast Florida is just starting to catch up and realize Chance Gardner’s talents the way Hawaii did for years. He is playing regularly in the area, so please visit www.chancegardner.net for more info, see him live, buy his album or listen/download on all digital music sites.

dave kosciolek