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Andrew Gabbard - Homemade (Karma Chief)

2 December 2021

Formerly of Ohio’s garage rocking Thee Shams and classic rock flagwaving Buffalo Killers, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Gabbard also co-leads the Gabbard Brothers and makes the occasional solo album. Homemade sounds like what one might expect from a pandemic-recorded project: modest, mid-fi, bedroom pop. But Gabbard is no inspired amateur, but a mature musician who uses his years of experience to highlight a familiar if always appealing blend of craft and heart. Clearly inspired by prenaturally skilled popsters like Harry Nilsson, Brian Wilson and, most obviously Emitt Rhodes, whose “Promises I’ve Made” closes the record, Gabbard centers his songs around piano, vocal harmonies, and an eager sense of cautious optimism. “Grin Song,” “Hot Poutine” and the particularly inspired “Brand New Cut” showcase a skilled craftsperson obsessed with finding the bright lights hiding under the past two years’ translucent clouds. “Here we are, 2021/Kiss the one you love if they’re still here,” Gabbard sings in the opener “Wake Up, Brother.” But it’s not desperation that prompts his advice – it’s a timely reminder to reassess what’s important, and act accordingly.