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reviews, interviews

Musical Magnificence

A very cool blog about undiscovered independent artists.  And I got an interview!  Very cool, indeed.  (link)

Aaron Gabriel Quietly Crashes The Party

My very first review!  Many thanks to Michael Pickett, North Columbia Monthly.

With pristine layers of stringed instruments and vocals that clock in somewhere between Evan Lowenstein, Paul Simon and the incandescent charm of John Denver, Aaron Gabriel's 'Uninvited Guest' blends beautiful songwriting and simple delivery in the space of eleven stately songs.​​​​​​​​​​​​

It's a bold move, because as 'easy' as it sounds to create a simple, mostly-acoustic record, it can be a monumental task to fill up a space with confidence and understat​ement over sequencers and bombast. Letting melodies do their job and then getting just the right combinations of instruments to speak and not clutter is the real trick​.​​​​​​​

Take tracks like 'Only You Alone' or album opener 'Lovesick Blues' (featuring Molly Kate Andrews) with strong, heartfelt melodies breathing easily over the top of shimmering strings. It's a superb formula and requires just the right touch. Possibly the best of the bunch, however, is the bright, harmony-laden 'The Late Molly Kate,' with its ringing vocal storytelling over the barest of instrumentation...absolutely masterful.​​​​​​​​

In actual fact, 'Uninvited Guest' is so well-paced and produced that you never get the sense that the album is 'stripped-down.'  It would almost be a shame to hear these songs arranged for anything bigger than what occurs here.  Aaron's voice is the perfect vehicle for these stories, backed with just the right accompaniment and harmony.  Nothing lays this out better than album ender 'Senorita in the Sunshine,' a closer that rises and falls with strong-and-simple guitar punctuated with angelic harmonies in a way that never feels forced or over-done.

'An Uninvited Guest' Brings Plenty To The Table

Courtesy of Sophia Aldous, Statesman Examiner

Tell us about your album "An Uninvited Guest." Where did you get the inspiration for it?

The inspiration for "An Uninvited Guest" came after an ex¬tended period of writer's block, during which I wasn't sure I was going to ever write another song. Thankfully, that didn't happen, and I found myself writing songs at a pretty rapid pace. This album is just the first handful -- there's plenty more to follow.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has yet to hear your music?
I would describe my music as either alternative/contemporary folk, or acoustic pop. It centers primarily around an acoustic guitar, but with a lot of different instruments layered over the top. I also have a fondness for harmonies, because I like the way they fill out a song.
How many instruments do you play and which one presents the greatest satisfaction and challenge for you?
I dabble with a few instruments on this album: guitar, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, oud (a Middle Eastern stringed instrument), concertina, and ukulele.  The oud presents the greatest challenge for me, because it is a really complicated instrument to play. But it sounds awesome. The greatest satisfaction comes from my ukulele: my wife gave it to me last Christmas, and I was so pleased to have written a song to play it on. It's a lot of fun.
Growing up, what kind of influence did music have on your life?
Music has a huge influence on my life. Growing up with a lot of older brothers, I was exposed to a lot of different types of music -- my earliest influences involve a strange combination of Don McLean, REM, and Van Morrison. I've always been drawn to the music that makes you think, that has deep meaning to it. It's almost like figuring out an inside joke only a select few get to be a part of.
Your website tagline is "A singer you can bring home to mother." What's the story behind that?
I used to be in a band years ago, and we called ourselves "The band you can bring home to mother." We were young, didn't smoke or drink or anything like that, and it was catchy. The band is no more, but I always liked the line. And I really am someone you could bring home to mother: I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, I rarely drink, and I don't use profanity in my songs. I'm also really, really adorable.
What's your song writing process like?
It varies: sometimes I get a melody going in my head, so I figure out the music and add words to it. And sometimes it's backwards from that, where I have the words first and have to come up with the music around it.
If you had to pick your favorite songs off your album, which ones would they be and why?
I'm fond of "Lovesick Blues," because I get to sing with the amazing Molly Kate Andrews. I'm also rather fond of "Senorita in the Sunshine," for a couple of reasons: my wife sings harmonies, as do some friends of ours, Megan and Molly Kate Andrews. And the song is about another friend we all have, so it has a sort of family feeling to it.
How would you like to see your craft evolve in the future?
Have it be more lucrative, perhaps? But beyond that, I have some ideas: I've started experimenting with drum loops, which adds a really interesting element that I didn't quite expect, but I'm really enjoying. I'm also hoping to collaborate more with Molly Kate, because she has a fantastic voice, and makes me sound so much better! And I'd like to get a better grasp on my other instruments, and maybe get some more. I really shouldn't get any more instruments, but it's kind of an addiction. I need help.

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