Jacco Gardner – Cabinet of Curiosities (2013)

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The outstanding, early Pink Floyd-inspired debut album of Jacco Gardner is easily the best album of 2013, even this early out in the year. Gardner is like a lighthouse beacon in a fog of mediocrity of pop music.

The timeless music Gardner creates here might be tagged as retro, but that’s only by people who get hung up instead of just listening to and appreciating the artist’s music. All of the songs are equally strong and the performances very solid.

“Clear The Air,” the project’s propulsive and very catchy starter recalls Syd Barrett’s Floyd circa 1967, and in a better world this would be a Top 40 hit single. It’s just a great infectious song that gets into your head. “The One Eyed King” has a Simon & Garfunkel/Pink Floyd quality about it in all of its introspective psychedelic dreaminess.

“Where Will You Go” recreates much of the dreamier qualities of Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets. It’s as though Jacco Gardner is channeling the spirit of Barrett, before the LSD damage set in. The title track is a lovely instrumental of an audible discovery of the wonderment of childhood.

Yet another solid tune is “Help Me out,” about time’s effects on everyone and finding the sunshine to get through all of it. One of his 2012 singles, “Summer’s Game” celebrates said season like an annual friend showing up at his front door. The up-tempo ode to personal change “Chameleon” reminds one of the Zombies in their Odyssey and Oracle period. “Where Will You Go” flows down a river of consciousness towards the sun. The delightful album closer “Ballad of Little Jane” is another contender for hit single, and wouldn’t have sounded out of place on either The Piper at the Gates of Dawn or Odyssey and Oracle.

Incredibly, Jacco handles everything on Cabinet of Curiosities (Trouble in Mind Records) except for the drums, which are fabulously played by Jos van Tol. Three songs were previously released as seven-inch vinyl singles in 2012 in Europe and the US and are included here, except for non-album b-side “A House on the Moon.”

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