It’s not typical for a dobro player to sing lead, especially when the musician in question is a soloist. However, that is exactly what Abbie Gardner of the Americana trio Red Molly has done on her latest solo effort, DobroSinger. The end result is extraordinarily good.
One of the advantages of having such sparse instrumentation is that it allows the listener to connect with the material on an even deeper level. Gardner’s delivery on each of these songs is spectacular. You can’t help but be drawn to her voice. It forces you to pay attention to what the lyrics are conveying. The interplay between Abbie’s vocals and her dobro makes for a captivating listen, particularly on Honky Tonk Song.
All of the material on DobroSinger, save for Those Memories of You by Alan O’Bryant and You Belong To Me by Pee Wee King, were either written or co-authored by Abbie Gardner. Each of the songs on this project explore different life themes. The opening track Down The Mountain tells the story of a hard life being lived by a Kentucky coal miner and his family, while Only All The Time (written with Molly Venter) and Three Quarter Time, dive into the whirlwind feelings that can result from romance.
Cypress Tree and When We Were Kids both approach the subject of mortality from different angles. The former alludes to one’s final wishes as they are nearing the end of their journey, while the latter tells the story of someone’s life coming to a tragic end due to continual poor decisions. Born In The City (written with Will Kimbrough) is a more positive piece with the message that there’s room for everyone at the table, no matter where you come from or what your circumstances may hold.
It’s always fun to see what direction a musician will take with their instrument. What Abbie Gardner has done on DobroSinger is really unique and innovative. Gardner herself classifies this release as an Americana recording, but it’s more outside the box than that. There’s elements of country, blues, and bluegrass among other styles.
DobroSinger should not be pigeonholed into any one category. It’s simply great music with depth and originality.