Howard Gladstone is on a mission to direct the songs on his new album Hourglass to those in need of hope. It’s filled with the themes of loss, despair, hope, healing, recovery, the road, and the inevitability of fate. Everything is viewed through the lens of passing time, and symbolized in the hourglass.
Howard Gladstone on vocals and acoustic guitar is joined by Laura Fernandez on vocals, Tony Quarrington on guitar, George Koller on bass, and Great Bob Scott on drums (4 tracks). The album was recorded in high resolution audio to ensure studio quality sound is available to the listener.
Focused intently on crafting powerful lyrics, and aiming to find their perfect union with melody, arrangement and musical accompaniment, Gladstone created songs that reflect a quiet despair, but are matched by hope-driven optimism. An early reviews states” Hourglass flows with flourishes of insight and romantic imagery” *
Gladstone is no stranger to these ideas, since experiencing a sudden onset of spinal stenosis in 2014 that resulted in debilitating spinal surgery. At first he was totally paralyzed and completely immobile. It was a very gradual recovery, but after three years, he emerged with a greater passion, a higher level of commitment and inspiration, and a deeper understanding of the healing power of art and music.
Gladstone wrote and revised the songs before, during, and after his injury and rehabilitation.
The opening track, “My Heart Won’t Let Me Keep Still” encapsulates many of the themes of the album. It is a song of dedication to moving forward, toward healing, no matter how challenging, and how pain can be washed away in the promise of ‘what still can be”. It features an unexpected and beautiful stand-up bass solo by George Koller.
He loves the romance of the Latin influence, as evidenced in “Granada Nights,” a love song to the land of Andalucía in Spain, that interpolates simple folksong structure and features a captivating vocal passage sung in Spanish by Laura Fernandez; and in “Rider’s Song (Cordoba),”adapted from a work by Spanish poet and playwright Frederico Garcia Lorca, a flamenco treatment for a song about a rider carrying olives on the deadly road to Cordoba. Highlighted here is another entrancing vocal by Fernandez, and lovely harmonies with Gladstone; while Tony Quarrington‘s guitar solo sparkles intently.
More vocal charm is added in both “In The Moment,” with a sweet “la-la-la” harmony vocal refrain in the chorus that does not undercut a deadly serious theme on the impossibility of defeating the passing of time, where “eternity passes, we just have to go along.”
A sad, sweet, gorgeous duet between Gladstone and Fernandez on “When We Fall” where they sing separately at first and then together, is done in an open D guitar tuning – a key Gladstone worked during his rehabilitation. The song reiterates the constant theme of the album that we “climb back up when we fall.”
The album wouldn’t be complete without a signature Gladstone topical tune like “Seven Years to the Day,” which employs hefty drums (Great Bob Scott), bass, and a very present and tasty electric guitar, and describes the account of Hurricane Isaac attacking New Orleans exactly seven years after Katrina wrought her disaster on the city. Thematically it fits into the pattern of the album in highlighting resilience and resolve of those who won’t give up in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity.
A jazzy shuffle of a love song with a slight Latin tilt, “Never Thought You’d Call” showcases a harmony vocal from Fernandez, and an unlikely but perfect sitar in the distance, and as a counterpoint to the acoustic guitar solos. It shows how love can be such a surprise sometimes – and the song could just as well be about a deity as a beloved.
“The Road Is Me” is a co-write with Quarrington, who also produced the record. Sporting a full-band folk/rock/country treatment, it’s about the freedom and sometime loneliness of the road, and how “movin’ to
keep movin’” made more sense at a younger age. Quarrington proves here, that he can rock out on electric as well as acoustic.
The album’s closer “Still Got So Long to Go” features a surprise appearance of a choir for the repeated choruses at the end, and reprises many of the themes that bring a cohesion to the album.
* “An emblematic album, embracing the tradition of the troubadour and the philosophy of the searcher, Hourglass flows with flourishes of insight and romantic imagery”. – Paul Corby, Corby’s Orbits
The Making of Hourglass
1. My Heart Won’t Let Me Keep Still
2. Granada Nights
3. In the Moment
4. Rider’s Song (Cordoba)
5. When We Fall
6. Seven Years to The Day
7. Never Thought You’d Call
8. The Road Is Me
9. Still Got So Long To Go
Howard Gladstone: vocal, acoustic guitar
Laura Fernandez: vocal
Tony Quarrington: guitars, mandolin, synthesizer, electric sitar, vocal
George Koller: stand-up bass
Great Bob Scott: drums (tracks 6-9)
Engineered and mastered by Peter J. Moore at MDI Productions and The “E” Room
Produced by Tony Quarrington
The choir (track 9): Bill Gladstone, Bonnie Gladstone, Kevin Zarnett, Laura Fernandez, Marg Stowe, Noah Zacharin, Tony LaViola, Tony Quarrington, Zoey Adams
Sergio Faluotico: percussion
Wally Brooker: saxophone (track 9)
Sonic Peach Music
Gladstone and Fernandez are launching a new record label SONIC PEACH Music. The label aims offer recordings of artists creating original music, and recorded at the highest possible audio resolution. High-resolution audio is the wave of the future.
Hourglass will be released on CD, 44.1kHz/16 bit digital format and in the following High-Resolution Audio formats:
Stay tuned for more updates on Sonic Peach including new music from Laura Fernandez, soon to be released on the label.