Jack Carty & Gus Gardiner

Hospital Hill

(It’s Dinner/Absolute)

This is a special project from Carty and Gardiner, recorded out in Sydney. The pair have worked together on many occasions, so this collection has the working relationship already established and hence the concentration here is on the impact of the material, Members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra are heard during the programme. The method of recording was based on complete takes as opposed to layering, I understand. So let’s press Play…

Opening cut Facing South commences with Paul Simon style acoustic guitar, then a rather desolate vocal starts, using an almost narrative ambience. There’s a real fresh-air vibe about this, complemented by the semi-baroque string ensemble. It’s like a more confident Nick Drake in a way. Simple but refined, this could have wide appeal. The tone of the strings is somewhere between ice and fire, as the instruments strike out and then combine.

Title track Hospital Hill finds Carty singing in the – for him! – comfortable high register on playing Nintendo games and other memories, with a mix of urgency and calm, again those dancing strings on the edge of melancholy. On to People Don’t Care with its dark intro and stark singing. Hotel Rooms has a cute light touch on the guitars but is a lament on the sameness of hotel rooms. The price of travelling, matey! On to The Road A Snake sounds a tad mystical to start, somehow needs piano to enhance its lighter elements. The strings sound heady, dizzy.

Kindness Is A Dying Art is an older song reimagined. It benefits from a better defined chord sequence and easily the best lyric here. My favourite song on the record AND one of the better orchestrations. This would have been a splendid male-female duet, I suggest.

Low In The Highlands is steady, reflective and a superior vocal, probably because of comfortable keying. Apple Tree sounds folky, purposeful and tuneful, could do with a solid bridge though. The strings work well, here. Antipodes is slow and strangely catchy, whilst closing selection Stargazer is an altogether brisker tune that sounds quite uplifting.

Not a voice I can love and the strings sometimes darken the songs with a Tim Burton ambience, but this project does attain its target and deliver acoustic fare with imaginative arrangements. Artists with their own style and touch…

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks to Asher and the Republic team)

Jack Carty & Gus Gardiner's  new album 'Hospital Hill' is out now on It's Dinner/Absolute.

For more information visit Jack Carty's official website here: http://bit.ly/2ModUZe

Jack Carty & Gus Gardiner