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Hilary Gardner: On the Trail With the Lonesome Pines

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Hilary Gardner: On the Trail With the Lonesome Pines
How does an Alaskan-reared, New York-based singer of Great America Songbook virtue come to explore trail songs from the '30s and '40s? The answer is quite simple: A pandemic-produced mixture of curiosity and yearning for open pastures. While cooped up in her Brooklyn apartment during early quarantine days, Hilary Gardner began to research the rich if oft-neglected history of this sub-genre, both as it lives and breathes in its own space and connects directly to first-rate jazz and tin pan alley songsmiths and practitioners. And through that process she came upon her own loyal-yet-personalized approach to how the West is sung.

Opening with the slow swagger of "Along The Navajo Trail," Gardner and company immediately tip their collective hat to the likes of Roy Rogers, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters and numerous others who saw success with that Dick Charles, Eddie DeLange & Lawrence Markes classic. Placed perfectly, it serves as the ideal introduction to Gardner's brand of saddle singing, the sound of The Lonesome Pines and, specifically within that band, the standout guitar stylings of the album's secret weapon—Justin Poindexter. The shuffling and shimmying blues of the Benny Carter, Gene DePaul & Don Raye gem "Cow Cow Boogie" follows, with Gardner adding sass on class. And then it's off to Gene Autry territory for some highly refined woolgathering on Billy Hill's "Call of the Canyon."

In that aforementioned opening run and the nine songs that follow, The Lonesome Pines—Poindexter, bassist Noah Garabedian and drummer Aaron Thurston—paint each scene to perfection. And Gardner, poised at the helm, never fails to find the best routes over prairies and proud lands. She's at one with moonlit skies, the magic of modulation, guest accordionist Sasha Papernik's adornments and Tex-Mex sway on Gene Autry and Fred Rose's "Under Fiesta Stars"; at peace in quiet contemplation, leading the way into lullaby land during Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin's "Silver on the Sage"; chipper and cheery as can be while sharing the mic with Poindexter on Joseph J. Lilley and Frank Loesser's "Jingle Jangle Jingle (I Got Spurs)"; and moving at a solid stride in relatively pure country territory on Jimmy Wakely's "Song of the Sierras." Whether personifying quietude on a gem like Jack Elliott and Mindy Petersen's "Lights of Old Santa Fe" or stepping comfortably onto the ranch for Johnny Mercer's "I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)," this song-slinger is right at home.

Though there are other aspects of the album that also deserve mention and praise—its referencing of song-to-celluloid bonds and history, producer Eli Wolf's top-notch work, the use of vintage gear to add warmth to the music—it's the leader and project as a whole that prove most buzzworthy. So to say it clearly and concisely: Hilary Gardner is a paragon of cowgirl cool, and On The Trail with The Lonesome Pines is an absolute delight.

Track Listing

Along the Navajo Trail; Cow Cow Boogie; Call of the Canyon; Under Fiesta Stars; Silver on the Sage; Jingle Jangle Jingle (I Got Spurs); A Cowboy Serenade (While I'm Smokin' My Last Cigarette); Song of the Sierras; Along the Santa Fe Trail; Lights of Old Santa Fe; I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande); Twilight on the Trail.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Justin Poindexter: mandolin, organ, vocal; Sasha Papernik: accordion (4, 5).

Album information

Title: On the Trail With the Lonesome Pines | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Anzic Records


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