The work of Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Common Jack (who also goes by John Gardner from time to time) is stepped in Americana’s acoustic reverberations and the inherent heart-on-sleeve earnestness which the genre so effortlessly employs. But while his music feels familiar to anyone even slightly acquainted with the rurality of Americana, Gardner’s music possesses a sense of its own destiny and direction, a feeling of individuality which sets it apart from the torrents of other musicians making their home within these bucolic sounds. And when he’s not peddling his own brew of rumbling acoustic rhythms, he’s touring the world as part of the Tony Award-winning Broadway show “Once,” which is based upon the film starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.
Gardner is able to find ways of incorporating various synths, pads and pop impulses into his folk-ish arrangements, adding depth and shine to his shuffling melodies and rustic tones. His earlier work owes more to traditional Americana while his more recent songs are built upon a more diverse offering of influences and inspirations. He recorded his debut record, “Bowl, Holland,” in Washington, DC's historic Cue Recording Studios with acclaimed producer Jim Ebert (Dave Grohl, Madonna, Toni Braxton). His sophomore effort, “Strange New State,” was recorded at Degraw Sound in Brooklyn with co-producer and engineer Harper James. And with each subsequent release, he finds new ways to explore these well-worn avenues and to glean unique revelations from their acoustic machinations. He’s currently set to release a new EP called “Canyons in the Dark” sometime early this year.
On recent single, “Viñales,” he employs miles-long melodies and a folksy perspective to convey a sense of personal exploration and emotional awareness. Detailing a trip that Gardner took with his girlfriend to Havana, Cuba after the borders were reopened, the track is a free-wheeling bit of introspection that calls our attention to the fact that we all too often limit our outlook by the constraints of our own experiences. There’s an ebb and flow to the song, an organic progression that feels almost aqueous in execution. As soon as you step foot in the music, you’re swept out to sea on the crests of its Americana compulsions. With rippling guitar lines and shuffling percussion rising from within the song, it becomes obvious fairly quickly that we’re in capable hands, as Gardner expertly ties all these musical threads together into a complicated web of swaying melodies and affecting lyrical insights.