Hilary Gardner – “On The Trail With the Lonesome Pines”

Vocalist Hilary Gardner just released her fourth album and this time around, she is heading west. I really like her concept of the cowboy’s life on the trail, singing songs written in the 1930s and 1940s by artists such as Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. The abum was produced by Eli Wolf and features Justin Poindexter on guitar and vocals, Noah Garabedian on bass, and Aaron Thurston on drums. Sasha Papernik guests on harmonica on “Under Fiesta Stars”, one of the highlights of the set with beautiful harmony vocals by Hilary and Justin.

Hilary Gardner "On The Trail"

“One of the things I love most about this material is that the lines between genres were blurrier back then,” says Hilary of the material. How true, even though it seems that there has been a lot of genre-mixing going on in the past couple of years, at least in jazz and soul and pop. But anyway, these cowboy songs actually remind of Rosemary Clooney’s “Sings Country Hits From The Heart” from 1963 mixed in with some modern-day kd lang. It’s not the same repertoire, but the overall mood is similar. “Silver On The Sage” was written by the same composers who wrote “Easy Living” and “Thanks For The Memory”, underlining the fact of those blurring lines here. Justin also adds some sweet texture by playing the mandolin.

And he almost sounds Charlie Christian-like on “Jingle Jangle Jingle (I Got Spurs)”, adding more of his vocals on this upbeat, feel-good swinging tune. Hilary’s voice shines bright throughout the set; flawless on the uptempo material and vulnerable in the slower numbers, like on the beautiful “A Cowboy Serenade (While I’m Smoking My Last Cigarette)”, getting the story across faithfully and with a great no-frills approach. She says that she has learned a lot from Patsy Cline. This tune is probably the best example. Great stuff. The album opens with a relaxingly swinging “Along The Navajo Trail” including Justin playing steel guitar with just about the perfect twang. And it continues with the most well-known tune of the album: on “Cow Cow Boogie”, the stomping and treading gets a welcome return.

Underneath it all, Hilary conveys this sweet nostalgia which surrounds most of the 12 tracks. Try “Call Of The Canyon” for that matter. A beauty. The great harmony vocals are back on a thrilling “Song Of The Sierras”, recorded by Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey back in 1942. It has a smoldering steel guitar solo and a somewhat unfettered groove. The other tune which has been recorded more frequently is “I’m An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande)” which features this great line “I’m a cowboy who never saw a cow”. Hilary closes the album with the melancholic, nature-loving “Twilight On The Trail”, complete with whistle and wistfulness. No vinyl release set as of now.


Similar Posts