United We Stand: Mark Gardner unifies with a warm, unfiltered, era-appropriate rock record
On United We Stand, Gardner is melodic, energetic and great fun to listen to.
Texture, craftsmanship and high amounts of energy are important elements throughout Marc Gardnerthe latest studio release album.
Melbourne-born Gardner is a seasoned performer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his work with his band, The Great Divide, which was also the name of his debut EP. Armed with a knack for unapologetically raw songwriting with plenty of energy and charisma, Gardner has quite the resume, earning plenty of support and performing alongside Neil Murray, Keith Potger (The Seekers) , Swannee, the late Chris Wilson and Alan Barnes, just to name a few, as well as being in the Top 10 on Reverbnation for several years.
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Released earlier this year, United We Stand follows the release of 2021’s Reflections and Moments, and sees Gardner almost limitless, showcasing a variety of atmospheres across 12 tracks.
Featuring an infectious mix of rock, blues, funk and country, United We Stand is a fiery record filled with driving drums, organic acoustics, searing, cinematic guitars, powerful and rich saxophones and trumpets and melodic harmonicas.
Atop this assortment of well-tempered instruments shines Gardner’s voice full of emotion, passion, love and sincerity as he sings songs of getting up and putting happiness, life, surfing, values and hard-earned power.
With over a decade of clarified experience, Gardner often goes straight for high-octane rock, while other tracks are more funk-inspired but are just as fast and peppy. Seemingly forever at its peak, all of the positive qualities that have characterized Gardner’s music over the years are included to the full extent of this release, while lyrically Gardner provides a thought-provoking summary of a few years we never had anticipated and targets the actions of the Australian government.
“The album was a response to what we had been treated as musicians, creatives, artists and performers before, during and after. [Covid]says Gardner.
“If you listen to Start Making Sense, it says it all. I think we can all relate to it in one way or another and it brings up a lot of questions in the song as well as a big brass hook, it seems like an anthem for these crazy times here in Victoria.
“The second track Walk On By was about all responsibility for care and Little White Lies speaks for itself…”
With the title sign that the country is one, the swirls of emotion and passion can be felt in every note of the 12 tracks, delivering a swing of songs that reflect the joy of music to the heaviness of lost time and separation experienced throughout the pandemic.
From the bright, dynamic and overwhelmingly positive opener Happy Song and the rocking blues party track Trouser Party, to the warm and country-tinged Walk On By, through the rocking Round and Round and the viscerally incredibly raw and fueled by the jazz of No Ordinary Girl, a song about a special neuro-diverse girl, Gardner always sets the bar high while keeping his music fresh and exciting.
“Happy Song stands out because we all need to smile more and the horns and the message it conveys give it a boost every day,” Gardner shares, “Sail To You or AKA Sail was a song written in late 90s but finished recently and has the 6/8 feel which is different from a lot of other songs but talks a lot about freedom and dedication to refugees It still amazes me that we don’t help others in need, regardless of their country of origin, their wealth and their state of health.
Charismatic, dynamic and unfiltered, United We Stand reflects the musician’s talent for creating feel-good and captivating music, capturing the essence of a great rock n roll soul band.
The album title (and title track) is also a nod to the recording process.
Written in 2019 and recorded before the lockdown, Gardner’s album was initially a trio release, with Gardner on vocals and acoustics, local Gordon Gunn on bass and Alan Murphy on drums. With time on his side, Gardner decided to add more substance to the record, bringing in a handful of local musicians to come into the studio and record additional sections.
“I added saxophone and horn parts on several songs as well as female vocals on Walk On By and No Ordinary Girl by Justine Jones; we added his juicy tenor sax lines alongside Darren Hotton’s alto sax,” says Gardner.
“We also added keyboard magic – Craig Fraser, Stephen RG on some electric guitar tracks, Brendan Forward also joined us on Trouser Party and Enough.”
Bolstered by talent, United We Stand became a collaborative album, featuring several local independent artists, including the aforementioned artists, as well as Alan Murphy, Gordon Gunn and many more.
“It was great to include more than 12 local artists on this album to help us stand tall during this time as creatives and artists as we were unable to play live or support our craft. to a wider audience during these times somehow the stigma still exists because we never know if we will be locked down again.
Produced and recorded at Highway 9 Productions by Sean O’Sullivan and mastered by Tony Jack The Bear at Deluxe Mastering in 2021, United We Stand is brimming with character, composition and its own unique and ever-evolving colors.
With a free spirit and veteran rock expertise, Gardner will celebrate his album launch with live performances with his band The Great Divide, performing songs from the debut album and new album tracks. You can see him at Boronia RSL on Friday November 18th, as well as live solo performances at Bunnings Vermont South on Sunday November 27th and Mooroolbark Bowls Club on Saturday December 17th, with more tour dates to be announced in not too much – far future.
“The live show took on a few more bold horn choices including sax and trumpet, or two horns, lots of vocals, acoustic guitar and electric guitar plus a tight rhythm section but with some visuals and lighting to gain more of an entertaining visual approach and we all enjoy our songs.
This article was produced in partnership with Mark Gardner.